From Fillmore to Punta del Este

Los Dedos (The Fingers) photographed by Tom Bergin

FIRST PERSON | Tom Bergin

Life flies by so fast. It has been almost 10 years since I sold Tom Bergin Goldsmith on Fillmore Street to Eric Trabert. I miss the customers — many of whom became friends. I miss the neighbors who popped in to say hello as they passed by on their daily routines — especially people like Rose, who shared her family recipe for Italian gravy, and Bruce, who often brought his latest baked goods for us to try. And of course I miss the ones who came by to keep me informed about the ups and downs of the neighborhood.

I feel honored to have shared in many happy moments as a jewelry designer on Fillmore Street for nine years, and for eight years before that at Union Street Goldsmith, whether it was working with customers to design a wedding ring, resetting a sentimental gemstone or finding a special keepsake. I miss the jewelry business and have fond memories of being involved with the Fillmore Merchants Association — which involved, among other things, climbing up the trees along Fillmore Street like a monkey to wrap them with Christmas lights.

After working hard for so many years, I thought I would just kick back. But life has brought me new adventures. Now I live between San Francisco and Montevideo, Uruguay. I’m in Uruguay because it is the childhood home of my partner of five years, who I met right in front of my house in San Francisco.

Going back and forth to Uruguay the last few years has turned into something of an endless summer. The shortest day of the year in the U.S., December 21, is the longest day of the year in Uruguay and the first day of summer. So while I sometimes miss being in retail at Christmas time, it is fun to spend Christmas near the beach and watch the water drain down the sink in the opposite direction.

In Uruguay, life is quiet. I enjoy doing travel and portrait photography and posting the photos on my Facebook page, Thomas Bergin Photography. The photograph above is part of a series I took in Punta del Este.

I don’t know what is around the next bend, but for now I’ll keep my seat belt fastened and enjoy the ride. My wish is that we all have a new year filled with good health and a happy journey.

Nos vemos amigos. I’ll be seeing you around.

  • Daniel Max

    What a delight to read about Uruguay, a country I’ve visited twice in recent years and consider to be a well-kept secret since many people have only a vague sense of it and often confuse it with Paraguay.

    Compared to the high drama of its neighbor, Argentina, Uruguay is a relaxed casual nation though both countries share a similar culture. A three-hour ferry from Buenos Aires takes one to Montevideo, a city of great charm and exceptional food. I love it.