I Never Get Tired of Seeing San Francisco From an Airplane

New perspectives of the seven-by-seven float thousands of feet above the Golden Gate Bridge.

There’s something pristinely captivating about viewing San Francisco from an airplane window. The vastness of a 49-square-mile city — one populated with over 150 public parks and some 880,000 residents — condenses into the frame of a double-sided viewing hole.

It also puts your own physicality into focus, a feeling akin to seeing pictures of the cosmos. You’re both everything and nothing, stardust and garden soil, all in the exact same moment. Humbling doesn’t even begin to describe such a feeling; maybe perspective-focusing is better.

In the context of San Francisco living, I always come to understand my place in this maddening, wonderous metropolis looking, quite literally, down on it.

More specifically: The avenues and lanes I best occupy.

(I’m a writer; I’m an editor; I’m a brand manager; I’m someone who can wield language to reflect the realities of the world and can do my part to affect change, however small it may be or what small role I might play in seeing it to fruition. Again, perspective-taking. And sure, a heaping dollop of humility.)

When I look down on Golden Gate Park, I reminisce on the countless late nights I’ve taken running inside of it. Like blood traveling through my circulatory system. I, too, fathom what my life would look like if I didn’t have such an accessible greenspace to interact with on a regular basis.

How the sea could someday swallow whole neighborhoods like Bayview, my thumb able to cover the entire area from such a cruising height.

(Humans have a proclivity to create and destroy… at the detriment of our own livability. San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776 — although the first humans arrived around 3000 B.C. Since the 1970s, Karl The Fog has thinned some 30% and, in my lifetime, completely fog-free days could become a new norm in San Francisco.)

I also see a City where I’ve fallen in love and out of love within its zip codes. The kindredships I’ve made within its confines will last me a lifetime. To exist in San Francisco is to understand the notions and importance that surround chosen families.

Some of the best sex in my life happened here… as has some of the most awkward.

It’s an interesting idea to think of a city with multitudes. Personifying such inanimate objects or places or collective things can blur one’s reality.

Buildings become sentient anomalies. Murals look back at you with like-colored irises. Staircases grow weathered, collecting a smattering of physical characteristics as people climb up and down — back and forth for years on end.

All of this is framed in essentially the size of a standard piece of printing paper when seen thousands of feet above sea level.

It’s poetic, yes. Perhaps even a means to rationalize a near-obsession with a city that’s become more than home.

After all, San Francisco has become an extension of myself and a moniker, in and of itself. When I travel and am introduced to new members of my family and friends groups, the greeting is nearly almost always the same: “This is Matt from San Francisco.”

I don’t want to either qualify or quantify my affinity for seeing San Francisco from such high-up vantage points. I just know I will never get tired of it. And living in a world that’s become increasingly exhausting, that’s something not lost on me.

Feature Image: Stuart Berman on Instagram at [at]stuinsf

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