Big City Fix

Last night at writers group we talked about southern California in the 60’s – huaraches, surfboards, sunshine, the Beach Boys. It seemed it was always summer in southern California back then.

It’s summer on Oahu now, hot and humid, with crowded beaches, warm water, and shave ice. Surfers, with surfboards under arms, run across streets to catch ocean waves. Sometimes they carry their boards while riding bicycles, a talent I will never achieve.  Tourists walk the streets with red, blistered skin. Air-conditioned stores fill with patrons seeking refuge from the hot, muggy afternoons. The summer solstice sun last night glared into our eyes as we drove into Kaimuki for our writers group.

I sit here at a small coffee shop in Honolulu in a tank top and shorts, continually scooting  my chair out of the sun, and I’m missing The City. THE City. San Francisco. Summer in San Francisco was a wool coat with hat and scarf; bitter cold wind, eye-level fog, foghorns and coffee. I think of the heater in my old 1930’s-built apartment coming on at all hours and of time spent in bookstores. I would go to a coffee shop for something to eat and take a coffee to walk around with, mostly because I’m a coffee addict, but also because it kept my hand warm.

I miss the literary scene. There’s City Lights in North Beach and independent bookstores in every neighborhood. I miss Book Passage in Marin County with their endless calendar of classes, conferences, readings, etc. I miss how I’d meet a writer at any coffee shop or bookstore.

My friend Eric Sasson is reading from his book next month at Why There Are Words in Sausalito. I used to attend regularly when I lived there, usually with a writer friend or two. I can’t find anything like Why There Are Words on Oahu.

I’m also thinking of Washington D.C.  A recent transplant told me it’s a foody scene in D.C. now. I remember when the Borders bookstore in Arlington, Virginia opened. It had a coffee shop and evening music, a novel idea at the time. People flocked to it. Now D.C. has new restaurants along with bookstores. (Please tell me great bookstores are still there.)

And why do I have thoughts of New York? Never have I yearned for New York. Last time I was there was before Rudy Giuliani was mayor.

I need a city fix.

I don’t know if this qualifies as Island Fever, I’m not craving miles and miles of open land. I’m just missing big city vitality.

Mark and I are planning a trip later this year to Seattle. Neither of us has ever been. We’re open to ideas of what to see or do. I like the artsy/literary/coffee shop scene. Mark likes historical places. We’ll walk neighborhoods and waterfronts.

But Seattle is months and months away. Anyone have a suggestion of how to get a big city fix in summertime Hawaii? Should I rent Sex And The City videos or do I get on a plane and go somewhere? Anyone have a city in mind I should check out?


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