I Left My Heart in San Francisco

I had a short meeting in San Francisco on Sunday. I absolutely hate travelling alone, and this time I was joined by daughter Hannah and my aunt. I always look for an excuse to visit San Francisco.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco - Hannah and Vitaliy Katsenelson

February 2018

I had a short meeting in San Francisco on Sunday. I absolutely hate travelling alone, and this time I was joined by daughter Hannah and my aunt. I always look for an excuse to visit San Francisco. We arrived on Sunday morning. I had a business lunch meeting in Sausalito and then we had the rest of Sunday and most of Monday to ourselves.

I’ve been to San Francisco half a dozen times, but discovering it through Hannah’s eyes was an incredible joy. Every little detail that I’d taken for granted as an adult brought forth a fountain of joy and excitement from her. We watched how Boudin Bakery makes bread in different shapes, including large crocodiles. She was stunned and could not believe that Ghirardelli stores give out free chocolates. She went wild when we saw sea lions on Pier 39. It is one thing to see them in the zoo and quite another to see them invade docks and surrounding boats. She was running around of taking pictures. Then I hear, “Dad I just saw two sea lions kiss!” Hannah kept asking me, “Why it is called the Golden Gate Bridge; it’s red!”. (Embarrassingly, I did not know the answer. I looked it up: It spans the Golden Gate, the strait that opens into San Francisco Bay).

I love mornings. I am an early-morning person. I especially love mornings in the city. I live in sleepy suburbia. IMA’s office is in a sleepy office park. Suburban mornings don’t have the morning energy of a city.

Hannah and I got up early, while the rest of the tourists were still asleep, and walked the streets of Fisherman’s Wharf. We saw shops getting prepared for the army of tourists that was going to invade them in a few hours. Entrances to the stores were being washed and streets being swept. A fast-food place was accepting delivery of boxes. Then there was the bay, with a few brave souls swimming in it, some of them halfway out to Alcatraz. The sun hit the Golden Gate Bridge stunningly. As I write this I finally understand why I love mornings: With every morning we get to see the birth of another day.

I gave Hannah $20 before the trip and told her it was her spending money for San Francisco. She saw a homeless man sitting on the street at Fisherman’s Wharf, went up to him, and gave him a dollar. (By that point she had already spent most of her $20.) Then she came up to me and said, “He had such kind eyes.” Then she paused, smiled, and said, “Oh, and Dad, you owe me a dollar.” I told her that’s not how charity works.

Hannah and I stopped by the Boudin Bakery again. For breakfast we split a chocolate chip raisin baguette, with a cup of steamed milk for Hannah and Americano for me. The best to-go breakfast I ever had.

These little moments. This hour I spent with my twelve-year- old daughter I will remember for the rest of my life. I hope she does, too. Our whole trip lasted only a bit more than a day, but it implanted so many great memories that I feel as if it lasted a month. I guess life is not about quantity but quality.

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