On Watching Sunsets Fall Atop Presidio Tunnel Tops

It's an exercise in finding gratitude and absorbing enchantments 
— while celebrating SF’s ‘most hyped’ park in years

For the most part, I’ve healed from the worst, most searing case of burnout I’ve ever experienced in my life — a sullen period marked by a listless numbing over sometime in June. During Pride Month, a time marked by queer frivolity and remembrance, my body felt apathetic to the stimulus around it. Everything began feeling, tasting like ash; the glossy veneer enveloping the career successes I’ve amassed over the past five years began to grow opaque.

By the middle of the month, I decided to let the majority of vocational responsibilities I was juggling in the air go uncached.

To see what would hit the floor and inevitably bounce back up; allow the weightier, denser, square items to ricochet off the tile floor and see them in a new state; find solace in the fact that I’m enough as I am and actually absorb that truth without prerequisites. It was either those intangibles hitting the floor… or my own body becoming flush with the kitchen grout.

What I discovered from not sending a single fucking newsletter for three weeks — not responding to unnecessary emails, setting up clear boundaries around time and trust, understanding (on a cellular level) that under no circumstance should you give someone primacy in your life when you’re nothing but an afterthought in theirs — was a release.

Ease, expansion. A feeling of contentment that occupies a space outside the cannon of Google Analytics.

Visiting San Francisco’s Presidio Tunnel Tops — the greenspace 20 years in the making atop Highway 101 — on the park’s grand opening seemed as good a time as any to reflect on this newfound self-resurgence in a new outdoor setting.

SF’s newest 14-acre-park opened inside the Presidio in July to audible excitement. Though I had missed the exact moment the ribbon was cut to debut the park by park officials and notable politicians, I did manage to, quite literally, run and make the still-going opening festivities held on July 17th around 11:30 a.m. that day.

Hundreds of eager park-goers crisscrossed the city’s newest park during the day’s events. They sat atop the wooden benches, the tops of those outdoor seats repurposed from fallen cypress trees. Warm bodies in the park’s Campfire circle — a stadium-like seating arrangement erected around a single large fire pit, which was unlit that afternoon — digested in the awe around them.

Small humans took complete advantage of the two-acre play area designed to embrace safe risk-taking and elicit a sense of biophilia by way of interacting with the natural materials around them. Dozens strolled on the handicap-accessible Bluff Walk; the passage creates a pathway connecting the Cliff Walk to the Outpost and Field Station.

Photo: Courtesy of Matt Charnock

“Look at this hella good view of the Golden Gate Bridge,” a woman said in soft blue Pantones to my left overlooking the bottom portion of the park. “I’ve passed this area for years now, and always wondered what the bridge would look like from here.”

“Well, I guess we both know what the answer to that is now — breathtaking,” I respond.

I didn’t mind catching her name, and neither did she pry for mine. It was a small collection of colloquialisms exchanged in a moment of happenstance acquaintanceship. It was pure. It was enough.

“I can’t wait to see the sunset from here,” I uttered in closing before putting back in my AirPods as if to speak that intention into fruition.

The feeling is no different perched atop Presidio Tunnel Tops. If anything, it’s echoed through a megaphone of situational niceties: ample places to sit down, spacious lawns to lay flat on, and new gorgeous staircases to both ascend and descend.

Photo: Courtesy of Matt Charnock

Three overlooks exist along the Cliff Walk, offering sublime vantage points of the Golden Gate Bridge. The path sits at the edge of the hillside and is at least 30 feet above Crissy Field — a perfect place to either relax on those beautiful benches carved from Presidio trees or, in my case, stand upright along the most front-facing overlook, practicing my deep breathing exercise.

Inhaling the joy of that moment. Exhaling the duress from chatty Slack channels.

Consuming the crisp Bay Area air like a warm pastry from Bob’s Donuts. Regurgitating those what-ifs of building a career inside a mercurial job field.

Sequestering bodily sensations that tingle my fingertips and touch the back of my neck. Expunging these cortisol reserves I store in my neck and shoulder muscles.

Rinse and repeat. Run home in the fading sunlight.

Much like how Francisco Park is a nearby balm — my 160-square-foot apartment is addressed in the TenderNob — I visit almost daily, the Presidio Tunnel Tops is becoming another cherishable greenspace within running distance of downtown. I just need to now find myself at 210 Lincoln Boulevard at sunrise.

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