Susan Dix Lyons: Senior Skip Day

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Susan Dix Lyons shares a special day in San Francisco with her daughter, and a lifetime of memories.

We drive on a Friday morning, the valley’s early sun fading behind us as we near the city. Across the Bay Bridge, San Francisco is wrapped in fog.

It’s Senior Skip Day and my daughter has asked me to go to SFMOMA with her. There’s no way to overstate the happiness this invitation gives me. In a couple of months, she’ll move across the country to start college, and there’s nothing I want more than time by her side.

“It’s still the best city,” my daughter says, as we exit the Yerba Buena tunnel and the skyline rises before us. I glance at her perfect face and agree. “It’s your city,” I say.

There are things I want to tell her, but when I think of the years that brought us to this moment time flattens and everything tumbles together. The landmarks and milestones. The disasters, human and natural. The wonder and sometimes luck of it all.


I want to tell her that the bridge we’re traveling over has one of the longest spans in the country, and that the first time I held her to my breast I felt her surge in my heart like a monument. I want to share that the bay is a drowned river valley submerged by a melting glacial ice sheet, and that I will always remember the warm winter-rain scent of her as a baby, the way she said “let me see” whenever I looked at something beyond her gaze, the crossing of her small teeth before braces. And does she know that the earthquake that occurred the year I graduated from college lasted 15 eternal seconds, and that sometimes I found her dancing alone in her room, captured by something seismic only she could feel?

I want to share that the hour on the tower clock of the Ferry Building is changed twice a year, by hand, and that I loved it every time she insisted I carry her across the playground to her Kindergarten class, her long legs tapping my knees like pendulums.

I want to say that, yes, beautiful girl, this is the best city, because this is your city – and its cool winds and waters will live inside you forever, waiting for each sweet return to welcome you home.

With a Perspective, I’m Susan Dix Lyons.

Susan Dix Lyons lives in Angwin.