Artist Date: Tired Legs, Full Heart

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I walked all over the place today.  Which was not my intention, but turned out to be lovely none the less.  Having had an incredibly productive Saturday I had a lot of free time today to do what ever I wanted.  I was not sure what that would be.  I knew I had two obligations to keep.

A commitment with friends in the Mission, then coffee with Annie at Four Barrel.  After 2:30 p.m. I had the rest of the day to do what ever I wanted.  My first thought was as stroll through Flax and then lunch at DeLessio.

But what ended up happening was even better.  I walked from Four Barrel on Valencia and 15th down to Flax to find that it was closed and I decided to go with plan B, trip to the MOMA, which I have not been to in a long time.

As I pulled up to DeLessio, Zuni Cafe caught my eye, and my nose.  I love riding my bike past Zuni because it always smells deliciously of wood smoke and roasting chicken–the house specialty.  I had not had lunch and I suddenly saw spoiling myself a little more than planned.

I happily trotted across Market St. and went into Zuni.  The dining room was not available, which was fine by me, and it was far too chilly to sit outside at the cafe tables on the sidewalk.  I chose a cozy little banquet in the front close to the zinc bar and nestled in with my book, Norman Mailer, Executioner’s Song.

I had a gorgeous pot of black tea, 6 oysters on the half shell, a caesar salad, divine bread and a smidge of butter, and two and a half slices of a parmesan reggiano hard cheese with dates.  Some of my favorite things in the world.

Zuni was out of the Quilcene oysters from Washington that are my favorite and I have not gotten the chance to eat in years, but had some plump, sweet, salty Miyagi’s and I tried some Kusshi’s on the server’s recommendation; which were richer and briny and exquisite with a pop of lemon juice drizzled over the top.  The Caesar was simplicity and done exactly the way a Caesar should be–nothing fancy, just really fresh baby romaine lettuce and traditional dressing, obviously made in house and home made croutons which had a delightful crunch.

And the cheese and figs were smashing.  Yum.  Salty cheese with rich, juicy figs, and just a thin, thin, thin slice of sweet batard bread to mash together all the flavors.  I read Mailer, drank my tea, watched the clouds drift across the sky, and let myself be waited on.  I do not often do this and it had become abundantly clear to me in my recent weeks that packing my schedule over full was not really the solution.

So today was a day to relax, stroll, explore my city and treat myself.

After lunch I thought about catching the F Market down town to really give myself the tourist feel on my day, but I just missed it and rather like walking any how, so I did.  Down Market St.  to the Civic Center Plaza where I caught the end of the Farmer’s Market and bought a bunch of organic Granny Smith apples and some Pink Ladies–all at the steal of $1 per pound as the market was closing.

Note to self–go back at end of day always!

Then down Market further, where my eye was drawn to the mosaic wall and all the colors captured in it by the Market St. Cinema.  Which is not a movie house, if you catch my drift.  I had never noticed how pearlescent the mosaic tiles were on the wall and I stopped to admire them and the color they leached out of the sky.

I was not looking at the posters, as may have been assumed by some real tourists walking past.

Then into the late afternoon throngs of shoppers around the Westfield Mall and on past to a short cut I took from Market St to the Yerba Buena gardens that led me down the “alley” past the Contemporary Jewish Art Museum and the tumble of water fall that echoes the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial water fall across the street.

I found a penny in my pocket and made a wish.  The same one I’ve made for six years now.

Then to the MOMA.  Where instead of buying a ticket, I bought a membership.  I had one when I first moved to the city, but let it lapse and never renewed.  Seven and a half years later, it just felt like time.  And I’m so grateful I did.  The $80 was a bargain.  A year of free admission to the MOMA.  My favorite museum in the world.

And yes, I have been to the Louvre.

I don’t know what it is about the MOMA, but it always draws me to it and I never fail to have an amazing experience there.  Some times it is in front of my favorite Rothko piece, a huge black massed canvas with streaks of scarlet burrowing through it.

Some times it is in the films I stumble upon in the galleries.  Often times it is in the pictures, the photographs, that I get caught.  Today I walked all the way up to the fourth floor and listened to Bill Fontana’s sonic shadows that played over the suspension bridge.

I just sat underneath a magical shower of shadow music and look out the window across 3rd St. to the gardens and the fountains, to the Metreon, and felt such gladness swell in my heart.

I don’t know that I could go on a date to the museum with some one, it is such a private experience for me.  I walk quickly through some of the galleries, only pausing if something catches my eye.  Or sometimes I just am awe struck by an exhibit.  Which happened in the last gallery I went to today, and I can’t tell you the name of the artist, I have already forgotten, but it was part of a series called “Beauty”.

And it stopped me in my tracks.  It was a photograph of a tree blown up to an enormous scale, the tree was bare, and ghostly and so evocative of memory and magic and nature.  I got goosebumps the moment I saw it and just stared.  I walked into it and away from it and read the description about how the artist did the photo and washed it over with paint and then I went back and stared some more.

And then I turned and saw another piece, that took my breath away.  But this one made me laugh and I saw that I amused the guard, who was also amused by the piece.  We shared a smile and I headed back down the stairs.

Meandering down the flights I let the cascade of Fontana’s sound scape wash over me and listened for it all the way to coat check, where I had stashed my bag of apples from the Farmer’s Market.

And then I walked home; smile plastered to my face.

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