Cities, to me, exist to be used. When I walked my normal path down San Francisco’s Market Street during my internship training in June, I would see people taking photographs everywhere. They would stop in the crosswalk to snap a picture down the length of the road, they would stare straight up for dangerously long amounts of time to photograph a particularly tall building, they would even just photograph buses and storefronts and creatively dressed people. I, however, was walking to work. I don’t give myself the chance to see the city as a place of beauty because I am too busy using it and taming it and learning to navigate its many neighborhoods.
The most beautiful scenes I’ve seen this summer have been while driving on the highway–mostly the 280 or the 17. There’s just something about nature that doesn’t beg to be used, only admired, that I find almost calming. I wish I could share photographs, but I’ve only seen these views in the small fractions of a second I’m willing to look away from the road. Even in those brief moments, I catch the way the hills seem to move as I speed past, or how the clouds crawl over the highest of the mountains, racing along, trying to keep pace with my car. Sometimes, I’ll catch sight of a small lake wedged in the middle of the great hills. It isn’t a lake like the ones I’ve visited, with vacationers and fishers roaming its edges. It’s just a lake, serene and alone and, once again, begging to be admired, but not used.
Once day, I would like to stop and really, truly see these mountains and hills. Just take a rural exit and drive as far as it’ll take me, then walk the rest of the way. Maybe I can be the lake’s sole visitor. I’m sure the hills won’t move quite as quickly from that vantage point, but I believe that it will be there that I find the magic in California.