Ocean Beach, as seen from Sutro Heights
It’s exactly two miles from my house to Ocean Beach (my Strava app tells me so). Every weekend I make the short run, ending up at the north end of the Great Highway near the Cliff House (today I beat my record: 9-minute miles – hurray! A special thank-you to my running partners, stress and angst).
The wall, looking northeast.
The wall, looking northwest to the Cliff House.
Ocean Beach is not initially beautiful. At least it wasn’t to me, the girl who grew up in Hawaii. There’s a huge, graffiti-covered (only on one side, thankfully) concrete wall that spans the entire length of the beach. It’s supposed to keep sand dunes from piling up on the Great Highway. Still, every summer the highway shuts down for the annual sand removal, a project that moves approximately 7,000 to 10,000 cubic yards of sand (source: SFGate).
Another view of the Cliff House.
Even without the eyesore, there’s the weather. The beach is cloudy or foggy or cold or windy or all of the above 360 days of the year. But… like everything else in this town, it’s grown on me. I love how vast it feels, how uncrowded (when it’s a nice day, you know it. Everyone flocks to the beach), how rugged, even how grey (I mean, crashing waves at the edge of the world are pretty amazing, whether the sun is shining on them or not).
I’m beginning to think San Francisco can make anything beautiful. The old homeless man sitting on a park bench I passed this morning. The abandoned beer bottles I found last week. Maybe my stress level is so high that I’m not thinking clearly (I think I AM a tad delusional right now, let’s be honest). But I think more than that, I just want to love my town as much as I can in these last couple of weeks.
One of the lessons that San Francisco has taught me (and it’s taught me many) is to look beyond. To look beyond myself, to look beyond first impressions, beyond stereotypes, beyond the hype…to look beyond the concrete wall and the fog, to find the beautiful crashing waves of Ocean Beach.