Chuck and I walked in silence to the car, where Jeanine was waiting. I felt like crying, like being swept in my cousin's' arms and taken back home. I am almost twenty years old and I still feel this way. I took several deep breaths and thought to myself, yes, this completely goes against the way I am, staying in an uncomfortable place. But I am coming to realize, now more than ever, that in order to ever be happy, one needs to experience the parts of life that aren't so pretty, and then make them beautiful.
So we moved forward, driving down the crowded streets to Fort Mason, where I would soon be spending the majority of my time. We walked down the path and my heart jumped when I saw the dark green sign (fittingly) labelled "Greens." The doors opened and inside were polished tables made from sanding redwood trees. The high ceilings shined with the light from the wall of windows where the boats on the Marina sat upon the San Francisco Bay. It was apparent that, despite my living situation, I would at least be able to come to work and view the loveliness of the bay, breathing in the clean ocean air, feeling the Delta Breeze wash over me. We were seated and across from me, laid over the huge expanse of wall was a mural, simple in its scenery but showing all the colors of the San Francisco sky: blues, pinks, and greens. I took the menu and read the brunch choices, my mouth tingling with the anticipation of tasting this food, so detailed in its preparation and ingredients. I stupidly ordered an option that did not even require cooking, save the slow-roasted almonds. But my cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, Marin County, berries and honeydew, and walnut levain definitely satisfied me. Chuck ordered the Pinnacles Scramble, a Mexican-inspired dish with scrambled eggs, potatoes, chilies, scallions, cheddar, and cilantro, served with corn tortillas and black bean chili, then dolloped with crème fraîche, and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Jeanine ordered the Merguez Poached Eggs, with a summer ragout of zucchini, carrots, English peas and corn, onions and garlic, served alongside crispy grilled polenta (with the char-marks and all), and garnished with goat cheese and cilantro. The freshly-squeezed orange juice was by far, the best I've had in my life - tangy, not overly sweet, and concentrated, with fine pulp.
When the check came, I asked our server, Jenna, if Chef Annie or Todd, the kitchen manager, were in. Although she came back with a no, she led me into the kitchen where I met Matt, one of the sous-chefs. I was immediately overjoyed to be witnessing a regular Saturday Brunch at the restaurant, and seeing only smiling faces. Everyone was visibly working hard, but looked happy nonetheless. I have a good feeling about this.
After the glitter of seeing Greens fell to my feet, we walked to the parking lot, bringing me back to my senses about the state of my apartment. As much as I tried to ignore the feeling of disgust pitted in my stomach, it kept creeping up on me, like the goosebumps I felt on my skin as we walked along the chilly Marina. The Bay was brimming with people celebrated the Fourth of July, playing bocci, eating the quintessential hot dogs, and laughing loudly. The fog hung low overhead and I saw the Golden Gate washed with a thin cloud of white.
I stopped at Safeway to pick up (lots of) cleaning equipment, and headed back to the dreadful O'Farrell Street apartment. I kissed goodbye to Chuck and Jeanine, thanking them over and over for their support and hospitality, and got to work. Armed with purple rubber gloves, Method multi-purpose spray, and a roll of paper towels, I got to work, scrubbing, wiping, and scrubbing again. Organizing my clothes, I folded everything into neat packages, and lining up my shoes in the closet. The Buddhist goddess of love and compassion I hung carefully on the wall, along with my window hanging woven with bright yellow, orange, red, and green. My bed was dressed with new sheets covered in botanical leaves and blankets. This room began to look more like a place of comfort rather than horror.
I then met my roommates, three out of four sweet Korean girls. As they continued talking to me, I felt much better and some of my fears were silenced. As I stood evaluating the work I did, I realized that I completed a huge feat in the self-progress. I was able to persevere through the situation I was given. By no means is this place perfect, but now it is a haven for me. And that will have to do for the time being.