by Barbara Ruth

I was twenty when I moved to San Francisco
And began my love affair
with her beaches, 49 hills,
the octopus at the aquarium
and especially the Victorian on Belvedere
where I lived for two months
where I learned for the first time
what it is to love a woman.
For years afterward, when people asked where I was from I’d say,”San Francisco
is my spiritual home.”

At 31, I came again
in a car whose muffler fell out on Market Street.
I wandered back
to the aquarium, the Japanese Tea House,
Land’s End.
Looked out, once more, on the Pacific from Ocean Beach,
walked up Belvedere Street to the Victorian on the corner.
My heart jumped at the “for rent” sign in the window.
I fantasized climbing the steps
paying the rent
leaving behind 1977
trading it in for 1966.
We lived on the road then. We got the car fixed and picked up 101, heading North.

I moved to Berkeley in 1983.
Within a week I checked the house on Belvedere — no sign this time.
The SF lesbian households I tried to join never asked me back
after the first interview.

In 2015, living in San Jose,
my caregiver drove me to the house on Belvedere
a block off Haight Street.
There’s a church across the street now. We thought we could park there on a Saturday.
The pastor shooed us off.
No sign in the window of the Victorian, spiffed up on the outside,
I’ve been unable to climb those steps 30 years.
The City streets get steeper
every time I come.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The house on Belvedere Street where I lived in 1967, taken in 2015. I lived on the third floor, where the top of my head often exploded into sunbeams.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After looking for two years, Barbara Ruth has yet to find a home in the valley of the silicon in the US of A. When she is not searching for housing, she takes photographs, and writes memoirs, feminist theory, fiction, and poetry. Her work can be found in the following recent anthologies, Barking Sycamores Year One, Yellow Chair Review, Year One; Lunessence, Garland of the Goddess, QDA (Queer Disability Anthology,) and Spoon Knife Anthology, and has been published in periodicals from Australia, Canada, India, UK and US.

Author photo by Colleen Hagan.