When An Actual Rainbow Meets a Rainbow-Inspired Bridge in San Francisco

It was the very notion of what it means to be in the right place, at the right time… with the right bit of smartphone technology in one’s hand.

Sunday has evolved into a day of soft pleasures. It’s the day of the week I’ve now dedicated to allowing myself just to be. There’s no inherent structure to this principle; the only requirement is that I remain present, attentive, and guided by curiosity and contentment.

If this day coincides with a desire to remain horizontal and oscillate between various stages of catalepsy, so be it; I’ll sink into feel-good queer films. But more often than not, Sundays invite me to take long walks around San Francisco. To sponge up the city. Explore new vistas. Revisit familiar ones.

While I admit I’m a horrible meditator, I’ve grown astute at meditative practices — reading a book in silence; cooking without distraction; stretching in the mornings; walking around five miles most days.

This past Sunday coincided with a seven-mile walk that took me from my new abode in Nob Hill, along the Embarcadero’s waterfront, wrapped around bits of SoMa, and climaxed at a serendipitous stop at Mission Dolores Park.

I found myself in the cool afterglow of a rainstorm… which produced a rainbow… that perfectly intersected with the park’s rainbow-themed pedestrian bridge.

“Look at that rainbow,” a man said with his iPhone at shoulder level. His face was bright. The corners of his mouth creased with happiness. “I haven’t seen one like this in a long time.”

I had noticed the rainbow as well but didn’t stop to appreciate it. Had he not spoken so effusively, I would’ve likely kept walking at a quick pace. However, I paused — finding myself right at the feet of where the aforenoted pedestrian bridge meets Church Street.

It was then that I noticed something so immensely unexpected that my jaw relaxed and slightly dropped: the rainbow had perfectly met the like-colored bridge.

“Holy fuck, the rainbow perfectly meets the bridge,” I exclaimed, showing where you’d need to place yourself to see the optics. “Now hold steady and make sure your phone is level. Focus on the sky to help capture the contrast.”

The man snapped what I could only assume was ten images before saying “you’re a better photographer than I am.” But he seemed pleased and grateful for what I helped him capture. Or at least I hope he did; I think he did.

The next ten minutes washed over me in a warm Pantone. Editing the one-and-done phone of the intersecting rainbows, I balanced light exposures and contrasted blue tones. Exposure levels were brought down to help create definitions. Shadows were allowed to hug objects. Somewhere between Market and Dolores streets, I felt satisfied with what I managed to both capture and edit.

“Y’ALL RAINBOW-INSPIRED SIDEWALK MEETS ACTUAL RAINBOW, IRL,” I fittingly captioned in posts on Twitter and Instagram. By the time I had managed to lock the apartment door behind me and put on a kettle for tea, the image was shared and viewed thousands of times on those platforms, collectively. 

In a time when San Francisco sits in a shallow pool of metamorphosis — office vacancy rates in downtown still sit above 25%, which has opened up conversations about rezoning these structures as residential units; permanent Slow Street Corridors will (hopefully) continue growing in number — its reassuring to know that beauty still exists around every corner.

It’s all just a walk away… so long as you pause and look up.

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