I do have a new neighborhood, but it’s not entirely clear if I have neighbors. People trudge up and down the street on a regular basis. We smile here and there. But they are pretty thin on the ground, these people. At times, the neighborhood gives every impression of having been evacuated. And, of course, it is, every morning…refugees returning every evening. Silicon Valley is freeway-close, as they say, to this part of San Francisco. Corporate buses mass by the subway station each morning. Many of my neighbors see much more of Santa Clara Valley than they do of Noe Valley.
But when you’re new in the hood, what’s to do but wander out and look for the action? On the Fourth of July local festivities break out on Laidely Street, the next up the hill from us. There’s a parade. There’s food. And there’s us, Jane and me, heading out the door in search of the neighborhood street party. And dammed if our next-door neighbors don’t do exactly the same thing. And it turns out that we have them, all of them, present and accounted for. The husband, an affable guy who probably hails from South Asia, has never been sighted before. We chat about what sort of gig may occur on Laidely Street, then banter about the route. All roads lead uphill in this neighborhood, unless you’re going home, when they lead – you guessed it – downhill. Which poses particular problems for my wheelchair…but I can’t worry about this at the moment.
Besides, Jane and I have emerged onto the fabled Laidely Street. Running laterally along the contour of the mountain slope, a strange thing happens to the road. It actually levels for a significant stretch. Ahead, we see people milling. The parade, someone from Jane’s church explains, is over. Actually, it seems to have been slightly over before it began. A procession of kids in wagons, a middle-aged band and several old cars. The cars are parked for display. The band is still playing oom pah pah. The kids have emerged from their wagons. There’s food. We decide not to have any. We have done our Fourth of July thing. I am reading a good crime mystery at home. We hit the road.
The high road or the low road? Miraculously we find a lower one. I’m getting the lay of the land. And today I got the lay of Laidely Street. The views are spectacular. The houses are quickly filling with money. Perched next to classic Victorians are several moderne domiciles, streamlined, white and Mies van der Roheish. No one’s idea of San Francisco, but then, ideas are flawed.