San Francisco with Friends
Landing in San Francisco, I go straight to my friends’ home and spend the rest of the Saturday and most of the Sunday with them, celebrating their new flat in the charming Panhandle. They moved here from London a few weeks ago, and are still settling in and exploring their new neighbourhood, excited to take me to some of their favourite local haunts … Google Photos reminds us that 3 years ago exactly, we were meandering around my new stomping ground, Tiong Bahru, together. We meander through streets lined with wooden rainbow houses, have coffee at Saint Frank Coffee, lunch from a snazzy deli, dinner at Tartine. Hayes Street for soft tees Outdoor Voices, 75 mindful minutes of vinyasa flow Yoga Tree SF, and caffeinating at Blue Bottle. Dip in and out of the parks in the Panhandle and Mission. So lush! It happens around 10 times that I’ll stop, close my eyes, breathe in the air and comment on the sweet dry smell of pine and eucalyptus … only to realise that if you wait two seconds in any green area of SF, the air is gonna smell of weed. On Monday morning, I walk through the hilly streets in a glorious sunrise, made dramatic by the fog in the Bay, down to my office by the water, for an all-day workshop. After work, a few of my colleagues and I share a car to Sunnyvale, where we stay in Airbnbs for the rest of the week, attending a conference.
Christmas cards. Candles. Christmas music. Ice-skating at the Natural History Museum. West End Adventure time — wine bars, dance shows. A friend from home visiting over the weekend for autumn leafy walks on the Heath and pub roasts, and my parents visiting another weekend for wonderful family quality time. Listening to podcasts while cycling to and from work. Pilates almost daily. After-work drinks with colleagues at the Standard. Yoga and breathing exercises at home.
I found my first grey hair. Okay, plural: two grey hairs. Picked up my phone, attempting to message my dad. Put it down again. Picked it up again. That game went on for a while. Asking him what I wanted to ask him would make the discovery very real; so far, I’d done the only sensible thing and pulled them out immediately. Finally, after hours of thinking about it, I called my dad and asked him when he found his first grey hair/-s. Until that point, I’d been convinced that I had taken after him when it comes to hair colour — just as the plentitude of follicles, as well as the shape and colour of our eyes, our facial traits, and the colour and type of our skin are all very similar. At 59, he’s still completely dark-haired, or, well, mainly dark with a few grey strands sprinkled elegantly throughout, just like his mum who is nearing 80. My mum’s thin, fine hair, on the other hand, turned completely grey when she was 30. I wanted him to admit that he’d found at least one or two grey hairs when he was 32. Please. Just a little, thin one; maybe in his moustache? He finally, hesitantly, agreed, his tone less convincing, more consoling. Now, I know all of this is silly. Most of my early-30s friends are at the very subtle, initial stages of greying/balding/wrinkling up, and I find them absolutely precious, those signs of lives being lived, and what have you. I guess it’s just my first, reluctant, confrontation with the fact that I, contrary to what I’d always thought about myself, do care about signs of ageing. Did the grey hairs appear as a sign of too much stress and anxiety — over work, over flying, over certain aspects of the state of the world? Or is it just pure biology? I don’t think my sudden distress is rooted in vanity. I’m sure I’ll look as fine as everyone else with grey hair. I’ve never dyed my hair, and I never will. Hm … I know what it was I felt when I spotted those hairs: for the first time ever I felt that I can’t pretend to be a child anymore; that I’m now officially an adult. Nothing has ever made me feel that sensation before.
Weekend in Copenhagen, attending my friend’s child’s Christening, after having brunch with another friend. As always an absolute joy to be home.✨ Walking through the cosy, cold streets and along the lakes. Spending time with sweet friends. Every christening should entail Christmas decoration maker-spaces in cosy courtyards by the Lakes, with ample bubbles and cheerful faces all around! ❤️ I carry the Christmas decoration I made, from a blob of clay filled with pine branches, dried nuts and leaves, tiny wooden red hearts, other sweet ornaments, and a tall candle at the centre, on a flimsy paper plate, with me to London. Getting it through security is the hardest part — but the sweet security lady puts it carefully into a box that shelters it from those rubber flaps that stuff has to got through before entering the machine. Lights the candle in our living room in Hampstead — now it feels like Christmas.