Here’s what you do:
First, go for a bike ride.
It does not much matter where you go on the bike ride; you can take the Embarcadero if you want, going from AT&T Park up past the Fisherman’s Wharf, especially if it’s a sunny day and you can squint away the legions of tourists. (You shouldn’t begrudge them — you’re one of them, after all.)
But you don’t need to take any route in particular. The goal is to end up somewhere vaguely alien and distant — to disassociate yourself from the entire process of geospatial reasoning, to lazily drift from neighborhood to neighborhood until, with a certain alacrity you realize you are kinda lost.
That’s a good start.
Next, you should try and find the nearest bookstore. You might think to yourself that, no, you already have enough books at home, and there’s no purpose in buying more — that it is somewhat imprudent to burden yourself with more words than the ones with which you came.
Which, sure, granted. You’ve already got your audiobook and your lull-to-sleep-at-end-of-day book and your sunny-day-at-the-park books. You’ve got myriad books (digital and otherwise) in which you’ve made admirable but not particularly considerable progress — fifty pages here in a Cold War-era noir, eighty pages there in a treatise on the biography of a journalist.
And all of those books are good, and you will get to them eventually (even though it’s okay if you don’t). But none of them are your “i-bought-this-in-this-city” books, which are sacred and casual. The trick to identifying these books is simple: you pick the ones with the most interesting covers. You do not think about it too much: you must not think about it too much. Remember, the goal is disentanglement.
(You should pick out three books. Three is a good number.)
So you’ve picked out some books and maybe a postcard or a bookmark or a tote. The next step — and this may be the trickiest one — is to find a café. It must have outdoor seating. It needs to be the type of place where you can sit for a few hours, with chairs that look comfortable and face the street.
You find the café. Order whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. I would suggest a drip coffee and an Americano (the Campari kind, not the espresso kind), but I’m not one to impose. Order a pastry or maybe a nice salad, too: something less to satisfy your hunger and more to satisfy the mechanics of consumption itself.
Spend two hours or so at the café in the strange and novel (to you) part of the strange and novel (to you) town. Your goal is to finish one of your new books in its entirety, but it’s okay if you don’t! You might spend thirty minutes absent-mindedly watching the comings and goings of the shop across the street, which is great.
Eventually, though, the day will draw to a close; you realize that you are starting to sport a sunburn, that the wind is growing a little chilly, and that it’s about time you head home. Take a slow and ambling route; if you see any markets or parks or art shows, be sure to pass through them.
You have not opened your computer all day. You must have so many emails waiting for you.
I hope you get to play tourist sometime soon.