(T-Minus 8) A Thankful Ten Days Before Christmas: Nighttime Strolls

Nighttime San Francisco

My friends thought I was crazy.

“You go for walks at night? Through the Tenderloin*?” Repeated questions spoken with incredulity. Um, yes. Walks at night. Through the Tenderloin. Once you’ve made it past Taylor and Market in the direction of Union Square, you’re golden.  Just, uh, don’t tell my mother.

*The “Tenderloin” is one of the less safe neighborhoods in the middle of San Francisco, right next to Union Square. It’s got quite a number of unique citizens living on its streets and corners. I used to live right on the edge of the Tenderloin when I was still in school.  Rule of thumb for tourists: Don’t make eye contact, and don’t act aggressive. Worst case scenario, get a non-touristy hoodie, pull up the hood, start walking with a limp and growling. No one will bother you.

Day -8: I am thankful for nighttime walks

I loved going on nighttime walks. When I was still in school, my friend S and I would head out in sweats and hoodies and explore the city at will. One of my roommates currently thinks that I barely explored San Francisco during my time in grad school. He’s wrong. I just didn’t go to the bars he frequented.

The Mission, San Francisco, CA

Instead, I saw a San Francisco through a nighttime lens lit by the moon and filtered by the glow of street lamps. S and I often found ourselves in North Beach, where our ponytails, thick sweaters, and sneakers struck a stark contrast from the people out in tiny dresses and sharp heels who were there to party under the brilliant glitter of billboards pointing to various dance venues.

We weren’t out to dance. At least, not with other people. We danced within our hearts with San Francisco.

Other times, we found ourselves climbing the hills to Japantown, the Fillmore, and past, to the gorgeous homes of Pacific Heights. Oh, how we dreamed! Wouldn’t it be marvelous to peek inside these houses with their perfectly manicured lawns and hedges? What kind of people lived there? How did they get there? Would they allow me, a poor student, a glimpse of their lives? “Champagne tastes on a beer budget,” my friend S would say of our situation. Indeed.

That was back when I was still going to school and living in the Tenderloin. I’ve since moved to the “suburbs” of San Francisco, and since S graduated before I did and then moved away—first to Korea, then to LA—my nighttime walks became infrequent. After I moved back from Spain, my friend P and I would do similar walks. But then P moved back to Orange County and got married.

It was harder to go on nighttime walks when I started working. I was closer to the beach, but further from the easy streets of downtown. Long working hours meant I cherished every moment of sleep I could scrap together. Chris lives in the East Bay, and we generally opt instead for weekend hikes in the mountains.

Twin Peaks, San Francisco, CA

But sometimes we end up in the City at night. Sometimes we end up at Twin Peaks, shivering in the dark and looking at the golden splendor that is my City. And we walk around in the Mission, protected from some of the fog and chill by a blanket of wine and spirits. I love every moment of it.

Do you go for walks in your neighborhood? Have you discovered that your neighborhood is different at different times of the day?

Previous thankful days:

19 thoughts on “(T-Minus 8) A Thankful Ten Days Before Christmas: Nighttime Strolls

    1. Yes! Tripods are a lifesaver when it comes to night photography. The photos I took here were handheld (very carefully) against a small stone wall while I prayed that my hand was steady enough to take the shot. 🙂


  1. Lately I only take photographs at night. Night time in the East of England is even gloomier and scarier than day time, the good thing is that i don’t need to go out that late as it is dark at 4pm now. But yes I like to explore towns at night time so i can use the bulb setting of my camera


    1. Love it! Yeah, wintertime is a great time to do nighttime shots– the nights start earlier and the air seems to be clearer due to the chill (or maybe it just seems that way to me. :D). Only problem is that my fingers tend to freeze, and then I end up with shaky photos because my hands are trembling from the cold . . . Oops. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My fingers too Jeanne! I haven’t found a pair of gloves that works yet. I’m going to try hunters gloves next, because there isn’t a ski glove that works. What I really need are the gloves astronauts use in space. Those work as all those astronauts that go out for space walks get the job done, and come back with all their fingers. I’m assuming they keep their fingers warm.

        I should ask one day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Deborah! I wish I could go on more of these walks– nighttime in the city is great. It IS hard to go on these walks if you don’t live close/in the city. But in the winter, the nights arrive early and you can get some of the nighttime-ness before it’s too late to make it home. Or find a shooting buddy! Then you’ve got a partner in crime to run around the city with. (Sometimes my boyfriend thinks the only reason I keep him around is so I have someone I can drag around with me as I explore and shoot photos… :D)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The problem with finding a shooting buddy is more that they live and work close to an hour away from the city too. It’s not easy!

        I also wish I lived closer to Santa Cruz/coast for sunrise/sunset images. One day I hope I’m able to afford to a rent a place for a couple of weeks and get some of the shots I’ve been envisioning.


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