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Tote that barge, lift that Steinway

A grand move

Oh, good God! Could it be time to move our baby grand again?

When we transplanted from NYC to S.F. and found our lovely rental with hardwood floors and lots of light, I made a promise: If we ever move from this home, the next tenants will get a grand piano for free because I am never going through that again.

Just over a year ago, as the movers struggled to get her up to our second-floor flat, I imagined I could hear our Yamaha grand weeping in a minor key while being angled into the elevator, and sighing with major relief when her sturdy legs were clamped back into place. Or was that my crying and sighing I was hearing? No matter, because once you move a baby grand piano across a continent, the only thing you’re sure about is that you never want to put your piano (or yourself) through that again.

But here we are. Not moving across a continent, but definitely looking at the City’s array of colorful Victorian houses to see if one is meant for us.

The Victorians of San Francisco make even the greyest day a visual feast that lifts the spirit, as they glow with splendid colors and lacy detail. The Painted Ladies, like all great art, have become objects of our adoration. But then, so has Our Bridge, the one we see every time we take the dogs out to the yard behind our building. “Our Bridge” — the way my mother used to call the Chicago ball club “My Cubbies.”

But it may be that we have found “Our House,” too.

When I say our, I mean not only my husband and me, but also our two best friends with whom we’ve always hoped to share one of these great houses. It’s a promise we made to each other back in New York City. And now, here we are. The right city, the right time.

From our first Sunday open house, it was clear that fulfilling our dream of living together, in a house we could all agree on, would be easier to do here than in NYC. San Francisco is expensive, but finding places in a configuration to suit our budget and our 21st-century family aesthetic would have cost far more in New York.

Families in earlier times were larger with several generations living under one roof, and houses were built to accommodate that social structure. Whereas NYC may once have had many big wooden homes, all I ever knew was a city of stone and poured concrete. But San Francisco has managed to keep thousands of its original houses, beautiful to the extreme and warmly inviting. I’ve lived in many kinds of NYC housing, but none were ever as congenial to my spirit as the Victorian houses we’ve visited here.

So, call the moving guys? Gird our mental loins for one more piano move? Perhaps.

But one thing is for sure: I will miss the Marina — and Our Bridge. My companion on every morning walk since I moved here. She has reminded me, in her silence and dignified grandeur, that life’s troubles can be endured, often with grace and ease, by simply rising above them all.

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