I’M A SAN FRANCISCAN AT HEART, born and raised first in the Marina and then in the outside lands of Park Merced, within earshot of the roar of the lions in the zoo. I was educated in public schools, and as a teenager traveled by walking, riding buses, streetcars, and cable cars, inhaling the scents of the street, and watching the people.

Although San Francisco has been called the Paris of the West, my outlook was provincial.  When my parents drove me over The Golden Gate Bridge to board as a freshman at Dominican College, I felt like a pioneer crossing the great divide. From my second-story perch in Edgehill, a turn of the century mansion on campus, I was soon intoxicated by the mysterious beauty of Marin’s wooded valleys, and the majesty of Mt. Tamalpais.

The Tides on Bridgeway in Sausalito was an open-beamed, airy bookstore that had the same bohemian atmosphere as City Lights in San Francisco.  City Lights had a gritty, urban, underground feel like a noir film. The Tides was an artists’ gathering place, book lovers’ hangout, and airy gateway by the bay to the wilds of Marin.  Even then stories seemed to be running in my blood.  In Northeast Harbor, Maine, where I briefly lived I helped open a bookstore called Bell, Book and Candle in a storefront that had once been Ober’s Meat Market.

While other dreams and forces took me far away, there are no places that have imprinted me as deeply as San Francisco and Marin. One part of me wanted to travel, another part wanted to dance, and yet another part wanted to write.  In the end they each won out.