San Francisco is vying for official status as my second city. At least, my second city in the United States since Paris officially holds the number two spot in my heart (somewhere around the left ventricle, I think). Which makes me quite happy, since for the last eight years I couldn’t conceive of living anywhere in America other than my adopted home town of Manhattan. After spending a couple of weeks there over the last month or so, I’ve grown fond of the hilly downtown streets, the great views around the Bay, the passable–hell, decent, even–restaurants, the weather, and just the vibe on the streets. All of this puts me in a great frame of mind when I’m working there. And so it was on Wednesday, happily walking the couple of miles from my hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf to my office on Market Street. On this day, I was working in an unfamiliar office in the Spear tower. When I arrived to check in, there was no space available, so I sat down to work in an “Internet Cafe”, which was a snack room with some network ports. But amazingly, 45 minutes later, the good folks at the front desk called me to let me know they had booked an office for me after all. I couldn’t believe my good fortune as I turfed out the squatter occupying the space–42nd floor, wall of windows overlooking the Bay. This was the exact moment I fell in love with San Francisco.
I happily worked away in this space for the rest of the day. I didn’t even take a lunch break–maybe I thought someone would steal my space. All the while, I was taking in the stunning view of the Bay, the Bay Bridge just to the right, the Richmond-San Rafael bridge just visible way off to the left. I guess it was about 5:30 when I started hearing sirens. Looking down, almost directly below, I could see 5 or 6 big ladder tracks heading along the Embarcadero, converging on one of the piers. Then came a dozen police cars and at least a dozen motorcycle cops. A burst of activity. The motorocycle cops raced their bikes to the end of the pier. Cops running. And this buzz of activity just continued, minute after minute, changing in character but not intensity. Most of the fire engines left, but even then, a large ladder truck arrived from the opposite direction. A red coast guard helicopter zoomed in at great speed, then began circling, a bright spotlight probing the water. It was fairly dark by now. Then the news helicopters began hoovering. Some small boats. I was googling the news, but could find no hint of what was going on. And so it was a few hours later, after dinner in North Beach, when I finally read that what I had witnessed was the aftermath of the young mother who had stripped her three boys and tossed them into the bay–all three had perished.