Home No More

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San Francisco, where I was born and partly raised. It always feels familiar, but in a dream-like way, because I’ve been gone so long. I was determined to recapture some of that “welcome home” feeling, so there I was, out on the bow before sunrise, snapping what should have been lovely pictures, as we sailed very slowly in under the Golden Gate bridge and deck stewards offered hot coffee and pastry.

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Alas, my new camera and I do not yet have a secure working relationship, and thus it was that there were no misty morning shots, because there turned out to have been no card in the camera. That made me unspeakably grumpy, until my wonderful cabin steward Yoga saved the day by sharing this shot that he took in the bright afternoon sunlight, when he had a little break and managed to get off the ship and be a tourist for a couple of hours.

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Still, San Francisco looks its best wrapped in its special silvery light,

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and the pelicans and gulls were out in search of breakfast. When I think of it, my personal breakfast of poached eggs on a bed of crab meat was probably not too different than their own.

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To save me from eternal grumpiness my dear friends Tom and Nancy drove up from Santa Cruz for hugs, lunch, and a series of hilarious conversations. The last time we met here was in 2009, or was it 2010? We ate near the Ferry Building, or did we go there for coffee, or did we go there at all? Was that the time they gave me the lovely pin I wore in their honor, or did they even remember ever having given it to me? And that’s how it went all day, proving, in case of any lingering doubt, that none of our memories are as crystalline as they once were. But what might have been a discouraging descent into a breakdown on memory lane turned into a running gag. I have no doubt that when next we meet we’ll be hashing over yesterday’s visit – did we actually visit Room and Board so they could pick out a bookcase, or was it Pottery Barn? Did we end up at the Mediterranean restaurant for lunch, or the Peruvian?

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The vagaries of memory are quite stunning at our age, and I could no more find my way around this town I once called home than back our 778 foot long ship out of her cozy berth at midnight.

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For midnight it was when we pulled away from the dock. Normally I’m asleep long before the witching hour, but I felt compelled to redeem my morning’s pathetic performance by taking another crack at bridge-snapping. First up, the new-to-me LED spectacle of the Bay Bridge.

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And yes, the sky was that color, so strong is the reflected light from the area surrounding my no-longer home.

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The Golden Gate at night is still pretty spectacular, and I was glad to have waited to see it in its nocturnal glory, a fitting farewell to a day filled with paradoxes, contrasts, and unexpected surprises both good and bad.

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And now we’re sailing down the coast to Los Angeles under brilliant blue skies and sparkling seas.

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Whales were alongside us at breakfast, and though we mostly saw only spouts I’m hoping for better sightings as we continue to follow their path of migration, so similar to our own.

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2 Comments on “Home No More”

  1. Jennifer Cook Says:

    Abra, we don’t know each other at all but I’ve been following you for many years. I first “met” you on eGullet many years ago when I was terribly impressed by your being a local-to-me (Vashon) personal chef (to the point that I did some serious research into becoming one myself). If you don’t mind my asking, if you’ve made public what journey you’re on I must have missed it. What inspired this grand tour, and why an Asian destination? I think of you as more of a Mediterranean focused cook/person.

  2. Abra Bennett Says:

    This is Holland America’s Grand Asia and Pacific tour, and I’m on it because, well, I’ve always wanted to spend time in Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific. I’m already missing cooking though, after just one week on board.


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