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Coming home

November 29, 2017
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

In early November, I went on another adventure out of state. This time, it was to San Francisco. It was for work; I was chosen to be in the studio audience for entrepreneur guru Tara Gentile's class on CreativeLive.

I haven't been to San Francisco since I was 12, the one and only time. So when I found out I would be in San Francisco, expenses paid, in 2017, over 30 years later, it was built up in my mind as a bucket list item. I said many times out loud and on the internet, "I hope to see the Pacific Ocean again before I die."

And it was great. They put me up in a funky little motel on Lombard Street (not the really bendy part, but closer to the Golden Gate Bridge), and I navigated my way to the studio near the Mission District on buses, and once by cab because I was running late.

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Taping was from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and I was learning a lot about how to create my ideal role within my team, something I could bring both to the newspaper and to the other things I do. The class was 10 really nice women all trying to do something entrepreneurial, and Tara Gentile, who is a dynamo. In fact, if you're a woman with your own business, I highly recommend Co-Commercial, Tara's moderated community for entrepreneurs.

The associate producers, Joseph and Sheila, were so good to us, and later so gracious to me, after what happened.

So the first day of taping was done, and we went our separate ways. There was still daylight by the time I navigated rush hour public transport back up Telegraph Hill, ran into my motel room, grabbed my camera, stuffed it into the red, leather Fossil bag you usually see me with, and went to the Fine Arts Palace and the Presidio to take photographs.

I was at the Fine Arts Palace, trying to get the shadow into the center of my photo, and the little tinge of red as the sun was going down when suddenly the edge of a concrete barrier dug into my belly.

I'll tell you this; I thought at first I had tripped and fallen, because I am honestly that much of a klutz sometimes.

Something, someone was pulling on my bag and its strap dug into my neck as I'd been wearing it crossbodied. Then I felt something cool and metallic against my scalp. It was too wide and heavy, I think, to have been a gun. I think it was a metal pipe of some kind. I didn't see it. I couldn't see who was holding me down. It was really cold. It felt really substantial, heavy. I whispered, "What do you want?"

The weird part is, I really didn't want them to have my camera or lenses. I know it's silly, but I didn't want them to have all the photographs on that data card, or my memories, or the images of so many of you that are filling that card since last summer (it's a 32GB and fits a lot of images and short videos).

One of them told me to not move. I was kind of shifting around to determine if I could get a good enough kick to the groin, but his body was too close on mine, and I didn't think my heel would hit just right, so I stayed as still as possible. Failing at that would have been dangerous, I was sure. I really didn't want to get beaten with whatever weapons they did have my face is too pretty, after all.

They rummaged around in my bag and found my wallet. Now as I write this, you should understand this was all taking place within seconds, far faster than I can explain it. And I only have the memory in snippets. I've not yet played out the whole incident in my head like a movie; it's more like really short clips the feeling of the cold concrete against my belly, my attempts to see anything, my wish that someone would happen along, though in the rushing city, I didn't know if a random person would get involved. The feeling of the side of his fist against my cheek. The fact that I was, of course, really scared, but I felt like I was kind of outside myself watching.

I don't remember how or why I had a conversation with them, but what I didn't want was for them to take my ID. I've already danced a mambo with the TSA on another trip in which my ID was lost, and I wasn't looking forward to showing up at SFO Airport having already had an alternative verification under my name to explain that, once again, I was going to have to have the full monty.

Okay. I can't write about this anymore. They went away with my cash and my credit cards. They acted like they wanted to commit some sort of assault or make some physical show of power, but somehow they were convinced to literally take the money and run.

The SFPD's finest were fantastic to me, though processing my account took a lot of time. Time in San Francisco I won't get back. They updated me just a bit ago; they're looking for a 31-year-old they're calling Adam. That could even be his name.

And I played hooky on the second day of taping, because I had physical fight-or-flight responses shoring up, and I couldn't guarantee that I wouldn't have some kind of emotional this or that on their live show. Joseph said I should come hang out at the studio anyway, hang out in their lovely and fully stocked kitchen, and he'd mic me to go in later in the day if I wanted.

It was tempting, but I went out and just walked the City and took photos. Including at the Presidio and Fine Arts Palace.

Because I'd be jiggered if they were going to stop me. I made it to the Marina, and saw the Pacific Ocean before I died. And I went to the Wharf, where one of my Facebook friends ordered me a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough from Cowgirl Creamery. It was the best I'd ever had. And I sat outside the Ferry building and watched the ships and the people and the seagulls, and still loved the ocean and California, but counted every second until I got back to Iowa.



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