I have Daly City on the brain.
REASON NUMBER 1. Every third grader has been assigned a city within San Mateo County and is required to turn in a written report, deliver an oral presentation, and develop some sort of visual enhancements. Vida was jumping out of her Converse when she was given Daly City. There are few things more amusing than a 9-year-old pumping her fist and saying, "Yes! Yes!" Risa, on the other hand, stood perplexed when assigned the venture capitalist capital of the world: Woodside. "Where is this place?" she said, staring at her paper.
REASON NUMBER 2. It so happened that my dad had a craving for Sinugba the other day, thus giving Vida the opportunity for field research. The restaurant turned out to be closed, so ignoring all other input, I made a beeline for Westlake Shopping Center (making quick stops first at my high school and then our old house), home of Daly City's one branch of Nation's. As we drove down endless Southgate Ave., Dad gave Vida a little impromptu suburban architecture talk and pointed out that every third or fourth house was exactly the same. Meanwhile, I was shocked to realize that a lovely view of San Francisco Bay was spread across my sightline. Was that always there? I asked myself. Of course, you idiot, I answered. You just weren't looking.
REASON NUMBER 3. During this same time, I was (and still am) reading Sunny's Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City. A third of the way through I had to e-mail him to scream about how frighteningly spot-on he is with his observations about the cultural landscape of Serramonte Mall, the breach of understanding between newly arrived Filipinos and the more established, and the fact that there is nowhere (such as parks) that encourages community gathering. The closest thing to a park has always been the Serramonte food court and, for a little while, Westlake Bowl. When I was eight or nine, I used to walk to the library, but I stopped going after I'd been flashed too many times by some perv in a grey trenchcoat. Oh Sunny, wailed your Nesting Ground Mistress in her e-mail, I was so psychologically boxed in by the omnipresent fog and the orderly lines of houses! Is it any wonder I never noticed the Bay?
*pause for dramatic effect*
Thank God Sunny didn't take the easy opportunity to make fun of me (at least not TO me). I also want to note that his take on the story behind first Filipino Mayor Mike Guingona's rise to the pinnacle of Daly City politics is a must-read.
REASON NUMBER 4. While all this was happening my eldest brother, who has lived on the North Shore of Oahu for twenty years and whose online presence has been hitherto slim, made his splashy debut on Facebook. This simple act contributed significantly to the Daly City pile-on because it inspired a flurry of Fairlawn Ct. remembrances from our cousins. Most of these memories revolved around skateboards, a truly horrible game called "Butts Up," and a guy named Fish who once held my little life in his hands as we careened down a large hill on his skateboard with no thought given to cross-traffic or other pertinent dangers.
REASON NUMBER 5. Add to this two questions, one posed by Barbara Jane and one by a white neighbor who grew up in San Bruno, and you have all the ingredients necessary for a lengthy trip down memory lane. Guess who asked which question:
1) "You're D.C., right?"
2) "What is your relationship to your city?"
If you didn't guess correctly, you're funny.
I left Daly City for good when I was seventeen years old, and I have had many homes since then: San Francisco, Vancouver (Canada), Washington, D.C., Virginia, Santa Barbara, and now San Mateo. But none have the visceral pull of the long empty streets of my foggy, Filipino-filled hometown. I'd post a picture for you, but would you believe it? I don't have one.