My Dearest San Diego,
The rumors you have heard from your friends are true; after more than a decade, San Diego, I’mbreaking up with you. We were thrown together through unforeseeable circumstance and despite the fact that we always had eyes for other people, we made it work. We had a life together that is for sure.
We worshipped the seemingly endless sunshine. We walked and ran and played. We weathered the insufferable heat of 85˚ and the bone chilling cold of 55˚. I remember the first time we went swimming together in the Pacific; how you took my breath away…literally.
You were my first coast. You’ll always be my first coast.
San Diego, I love you but you’re bringing me down.
So what happened? You got greedy. You got callous. You started eating your young and you got fat with indifference. Now, you have always looked amazing, fucking super-hot, but the soul on the inside is black and cold. You are not the same city I started seeing in 2002. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you have changed in great ways. Everything must change. Did you have to change so much for all the other dick-bags you were dating? I digress. I can’t blame you for taking the money grab. For pulling a Damon. It has, however, made you a myopic, near-sighted, greedy, dirty, sexy whore.
So, here it goes. I’m leaving you on January 5th-ish. I am getting back together with Austin. Whatever, you don’t know me and don’t think you know Austin. We were young and stupid and incredibly depressed when we broke up the last time and I am ready to give it a second shot; as an adult; as a professional. When I left, all we did was work crappy jobs and hang out in bars and play music. Sometimes the simple life is not as fulfilling. We were not a vector. We had no magnitude and no direction. I asked Austin if it loved me now that I can dance. It said, “yes, let’s grind”. I’m down. San Diego, you never really danced with me and when you thought we were dancing it was really just me while you checked your Blackberry.
San Diego, I love you but we can’t be a couple. However, I do have a plan. I don’t leave for a few weeks. We could, you know, hook-up for old times sake. I know how you like it and neither of us have “officially” moved on to anyone else yet. Whadda ya say? You do me and I will do you until Jan 5th?
As my last endeavor at experiencing all that I love dearly in San Diego I am engineering a farewell tour of the places and things that will be indelibly marked on my heart and soul. In the next three weeks I am going to try to experience my list of greats again for the first time. I invite anyone reading this to come along if the spirit moves you. This is a list of what and why I love about San Diego.
San Diego, I Think We Should See Other People…But We Can Still Have Sex, Right?
(In no particular order)
- Brunch at Brockton Villa and La Jolla Cove – When I first moved here I spent a lot of time driving around and exploring San Diego until Nadia came back from OIS. I had heard about how interesting La Jolla Cove was as a cultural node and when I went there I discovered the little cottage right above the water that served egg scrambles cooked in steam and a drink called the Keith Richards (4 shots of espresso topped of with Mexican hot chocolate). You can sit on the porch above the water and watch the waves roll up the submersed canyon; watch the SCUBA divers waddles down the road in all their gear and slip off the side of the beach into the deep blue water; follow the pelicans as they float on the updraft off the cliffs. It is a beautiful place in the morning with the sun behind you and glancing off the Pacific and the smell of the salt water is astringent and cool.
- South Beach – I need to have one last taste of the fish tacos that rocked my world. Those that know me well, know that I have no certain love for cooked fish. Raw fish…any kind, any time, any day. This is the first place that I would easily skip work to eat cooked fish. When Alison and I would take friends out that wanted a uniquely SD foor experience it always came down to fish tacos (yes, I know it’s all Baja, but let me just have this one. Okay?) and that always led to South Beach.
- Cowles Mountain – Hike it early in the morning when the snakes are still curled up from the cold and the only real company you have is the runners and then stand at the peak and just enjoy the world.
- The Turf Club – I know, who wants to pay to cook your own food. When you get a very nice cut of meat, garlic bread, a side salad and a pint for $12 out the door…me me me me!
- Influx – The croissant. The best croissant in San Diego. That’s my opinion. Edwin might disagree. He knows more than I do about these things. For my money I go here first and last. I’ll pair it with a double Americano served by the amazingly cute girl with the tats and Walking Dead hoodie.
- RK CafeSushi – Fuck Sushi Deli. You get what you pay for and throw in an obscene line to boot. RK is a block away. Smaller if non-existent line. Same prices. Better service. Better sushi. Done.
- Stone Steps Beach – My favorite stretch of endless sand in all of SD County. It’s a public beach ensconced in the camouflage of a small coast neighborhood. You almost have to know exactly where it is to stumble upon it. Usually a crowd of 10-12 people over a 1/4 mile or so is a gangbusters day at Stone Steps. It does not hurt to have Lou’s Records and the Pannikin a few blocks away.
- Jamul Motorcycle Ride – Highways, rural access roads, twists, turns, sitting on the peak with an orange and watching the cars, the two straight-aways that let you uncoil your bike to 160+. It is a full tank of gas and the better part of 2 hours but it is one of the most beautiful rides in San Diego county.
- Rolberto’s – The perfect California burrito. When my brother and I lived in the apartment in Normal Heights (you know, the one where our neighbor was stabbed to death in the lobby elevator on our first day after signing the lease?) Rolberto’s and Lestat’s were the only reason to go outside.
- Small Bar – My favorite bar. I need another Bloody Mary.
- Stone Brewery – I will miss you, Hoppy Craft Beer.
- The Salk Institute – This will not just be a visit. This will be a pilgrimage to pay my last homages. The treasure that most San Diegans have now idea about. To sit at the architectural alter and watch the water in the courtyard channel run silently to the Pacific horizon one last time.
- Torrey Pines State Park and Torrey Pines Lodge – Park at the Lodge and walk North until you hit the system of erosion canyons and run-off peaks so you can stand in the clean wind and watch the waves break themselves against the cliffs. Once you get back you can grab a nice little drink in the bar of the Lodge, the best example of Arts & Crafts architecture made post-2000. The detailing is un-fucking-believable.
- Horton Plaza – Just hear me out. When I first moved here the former wife was away at Navy OIS learning how to be an amazing Naval officer. I lived downtown with no friends and I was lonely as Hell. Enter Horton Plaza. All the gauche architecture that exists there and the radically obfuscated circulation system; it is an amazing place to people watch. I would park at the top level suspended over the central open space and do my school work and watch people until it got dark. Being at Horton Plaza made me feel like I was a person in a nice group but did not have to interact. The proximity to random groups of people helped me feel not as lonely and it still is that place for me.
- Run the Embarcadero on the bay – The bay trail from Hawthorne to the Harbor Island was my first real running training ground. It was where I learned that I could actually run and like doing it. Is there a better place to run? As far as I know there is not. The nice cooling breeze makes it the place to run in the summer nights as long as the Coast Guard is not landing a chopper when you run by — I just can’t not stand and watch the whole process.
- The Living Room – The coffee house where many a project has been completed, many a hair pulled out from frustration, many a conversation with Mark wandered far away from architecture, and where many a PLNU girl would go to study. Fun.
- Sunset Cliffs – At sunset of course. Every time I watch the sun slowly dip behind the horizon from the perch on Sunset CLiffs I feel that everyone should applaud and say “thank you” to mother nature for letting us see things so beautiful.
- Tacos El Gordo – As close to real baja street tacos as I have had without crossing the border. I might even let Alison go if she could ever remember the damn name correctly. I guess I could also just go to…
- Tijuana – I love Tijuana. It smells just like Cairo when you cross through the border fence and for that alone I will always love it. San Diego could never be more culturally interesting than Tijuana. I will miss living near the border for sure.
- A Rocky’s Crown Pub Burger – I fall squarely on this side of the San Diego burger divide. Hodad’s is great but we all know it is just fins on a Buick. All flash and toppings. It’s the equivalent of saying that barbecue is “great” based on the sauce (are you reading this Phil’s? IT’S NOT ABOUT THE DAMN SAUCE). Pah-leaze! Rocky’s is the best burger in San Diego. It’s a plain and simple cheeseburger. Nothing else. No gargantuan toppings. No (forgive me Dairy Gods) special blue cheese or Brie or gorgonzola. Just shredded “American” “cheddar”. But the flavor?! The flavor is what will stop your heart. I want one more “secret spice” beef patty and a beer before I go. ¡Viva Rocky’s!