229 San Francisco, CA: Bound to Bump Into Someone

A white middle-aged couple stepped up. He had a ruddy nose, green eyes, and a graying goatee. His wan wife had a sharp nose and pale blue eyes. Both wore American flag pins on their lapels.

To my question, the man answered. "No, I don't think so. I've lived here all my life. I'm third generation. My children grew up here. We've lived in the same house, and my children have this anchor. That's so rare in this society. New York or Philadelphia or Chicago might have single neighborhoods that are as large as San Francisco. In San Francisco, it's pretty hard to stay isolated. You're on the end of a peninsula. You're bound to bump into someone."

His wife was also from San Francisco and added, "I don't feel isolated. If you just came here and didn't know anybody, then maybe you would. A lot of people move here. Maybe they would feel more isolated than we who were born and raised here."

A twenty-something Asian man nearby told the diminutive Asian woman on his arm that Bridle Path looked like a photograph. So I asked if he meant that in a good way.

"Yeah," he nodded. "It's very nice." His pinstriped shirt was buttoned-up, and his short black hair parted on the side. "What other paintings did he do?" he asked. I described Nighthawks. "With Elvis and all the celebrities in it?" he confirmed. "I don't know a lot of paintings, but I know that one."

When I asked if he thought people here were isolated like Hopper's characters, he balked, "I don't. For a big city, San Francisco has people who are very friendly. People are more close in smaller towns. (I've been to Kentucky and places like that.) But it's inevitable in a large city. I've been in New York, and everybody's so busy and in themselves."

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