Some things end; some things come to a screeching halt. The hunger overwhelms. I wake up hungry. I am always hungry. I cannot stop the longing.
I satiate myself with self-help quotations, but they’re like sugar, temporarily satisfying but perpetually dissolving, never sustenance for the hunger. I need to fill myself. The plane shakes, and I stare blankly at the “Exit” sign.
I pull the seat buckle across my lap in route recognition. I wrapped my denim jacket around my shoulders covered in goose bumps and feel the extra layers of skin around my ribs. Still, I was here to eat.
I look at the sea as we land: I could get lost in there. For months now, I have been counting impending loss.
In the Golden City, we searched like frantic, dehydrated persons for art, food, and conversation that would fill us up again.
Land necessitates coffee, making my way to the Mission and commandeering a community table outside of Ritual Coffee Roasters. Sun bearing down on my translucent shoulders, I write. It’s a warm Friday morning, and the wind lilts and carries flecks of plant life past the brim of my cup — the particles dancing in the caramel colored haze. Our hunger for others, for love, wounds us and binds us, and I am caught in the perpetual in-between. I am here to feel satiated again.
Monika arrives. Her confidence and loyalty provides a home. She is well acquainted with hunger. We wander around Valencia Street, amidst art-deco facades, with one goal: to eat. We find ourselves at Tartine, consuming three large tarts of lemon, coconut cream, and blueberry oat, as the table next to us wide-eyes our capability, and we gulp down sips of champagne.
Yes, these are all for us. The bites linger on my tongue. How could you ever be sad when these exist? Monika twirls the fork in the remaining crumbs. When no one is looking, we lick the plate.
The sun bleeds in the backdrop of the city as Monika dangles an American Spirit out the window. We are headed to Mission Chinese, the famed pop-up kitchen in the unassuming window front of “Lung Shan Restaurant” where they play Tupac with red floodlights and bottles of sake.
A bottle of sake to myself, tea fragrance rice, beef tartar lettuce cups laced with roe and stingingly spicy, cumin lamb larb, and traditional sesame chicken. Damn, that’s an order, the waiter laughs.
The conversation is convivial. We go to a club. I make the mistake of ordering a drink and am told there is a $20 minimum. Soon the club is sweaty, spinning, busting at the seams with remixed pop songs. I step outside, gasping for air, and attempt to riddle out a text message, but Monika stops me before I can press send.
It only leaves when you stop feeding it. I grip onto her arm to get to the car four blocks away. Laying my head on the edge of the toilet, I’m reminded that drunkenness still feels like hunger. I don’t throw up and avoid ruining tonight’s perfect meal.
We drive from the Outer Mission to the Sunset. We shoot espresso from the middle-aged, tattooed, punk barista at Trouble Coffee and drool over the cinnamon toast. We wait for an hour and a half at Outerlands, amidst everyone else who patiently stoops on the patio.
Why the hell do we have to wait everywhere we go? I’m hungry and annoyed. That’s just how it works here, baby girl.
We eat Dutch pancakes, filled with ricotta, bacon, and poached eggs, and guzzle down mimosas before our date with the De Young. The greens in Golden Gate Park glisten; I want to languish in their overgrowth.
We drive the 101 to Petaluma, paying our ritualistic sacrifices at In-N-Out along the way. Cheeseburger “Animal Style,” large fry, chocolate milk shake, please. We find our way to Lagunitas, lounging outside on the large patio amidst families and tourists, devouring a cheese plate and tasting more beers than the waiter informed me was technically allowed. I’m from altitude, so it’s different, I slur out and shrug. I shuffle to the restroom and return to discover that our seats had shifted into the shade — a kind couple was concerned about my pale skin, melanoma, and dehydration.
As if we could stomach anymore, we soldier on. Monika calls her dad to see if he wants to meet us at the Ferry Building: how the hell are you two still eating? We can’t stop and don’t plan to — the hunger never ends and San Francisco keeps on giving.
Sightglass, Saint Frank, Four Barrel, Wrecking Ball, and Blue Bottle — there is more than enough coffee to fuel us. We work our way through the building: homemade potato chips, bread and olive oil, half dozen oysters, a charcuterie plate, a cheese plate, empanadas, several tasters of wine, macaroons, dark chocolate, and espresso. 72 degrees, and the water glistens. Our bellies are full and warm. We lose our ability to converse and watch sailboats drift across the bay. This is some kind of paradise.
We waddle along Union Street and discuss the lives we could lead in different neighborhoods: who would you be in The Mission? Who would be in Berkeley?
Five miles of walking and the hunger has returned in time for our reservation at Bar Tartine. We enter into a mad-scientist’s food fantasy, barely blinking as earth toned ceramic plates float to and from our table, mixed with herbal root cocktails and rye bread. Monika and I only mumble with pleasure as the food comes and goes.
How could you ever be sad? We gently pull spoons from our lips and sigh. This is perfect.
The last morning before my flight, I am alone. I saddle up to the bar at Swan Oyster Depot, slightly bloated from the day before but still hungry, and sip on an Anchor Steam while shrimp cocktail, a dozen oysters, and crab-back successively come from behind the counter. I suck the crab juice off the tips of my finger and order another beer. I am too full to mourn.