October 4th, 2009 10:14 PM / Location: 37.764908,-122.4218
If life was a candy bar its slogan would be: "Life- it's fucking crazy." I don't know why this didn't make it onto the cereal box.
I had just finished work. And was left with 4 hours. I started heading to the corner of 16th and Mission, where I intended to wait for something fantastic to happen. It was approximately 7PM.
As I waited for the stoplight to change 4 blocks from my destination a woman rushed across the street and asked me, in a British accent, the way to market street. I thought about it for a moment and gave her directions. We were quite a few blocks from market street then. I decided to escort her.
She had come from London the day before, she had always wanted to see San Francisco and was stopping off here on her way to LA to meet a friend of her's that she had met in India. Rosemary is her name. We discuss art and life and giving and taking. She looks over my shoulder every time I take out my phone to document the evening. We stop to see what the commotion is outside of a store. Outside I realize that I've gotten a text message from someone who hasn't spoken to me in weeks. She wanted to talk but didn't know what to say. And she wouldn't say it until anger got it out of her the next day.
2 amazing things so far. The next was that I didn't respond right away. Not responding to her right away.... unheard of.... But I knew we'd be texting back and forth constantly, and I had a good deed to complete.
The wind was moving faster than any time I could remember outside of Oklahoma, she shivered and I lent her the sweater I had in my backpack. She wore it despite the fact that it smelled funny from the sweat from my earlier bicycle ride.
Around Flax we found the leftovers of a guitar. I decided that I needed to have them, though my backpack was overflowing. We also decided that FLAX stands for 'Fashionably Lazy Artistic Xenophobes.'
We had to fight against the wind. And then we waded through the exodus of Lovefesters.
I knew she was out there somewhere.
We arrived at Rosemary's hostel, retired upstairs where a typewritten note stuck to my shoe. It was a fortune that applied to neither of us so I kept it for later.
I bicycled back to the Skylark, late but the first arrival to my friend Sir Francis Drake's going away party. (The story you are reading is true, the names have been changed to amuse me.) In 3 day's time he will depart for Japan.
Lollypop Michigan, who I did not realize worked at the Skylark, nodded to me and saw the guitar parts protruding from my backpack. He said he needed some guitar strings and a bridge for a kind of drum he was making. I was happy to oblige.
Typically uncaring of appearances, I plopped down in front of a nearby tree and ate a mango. A very old man insisted that I take his grapes as well. I realized I must look like a vagabond, particularly pathetic on such a cold and windy night.
Those were the best damn grapes I ever tasted.
Went inside, Sherlock Holmes was already there along with his roommate The Iguana King. Sherlock Holmes was incredibly drunk. I was honored by him telling some of my jokes, which he made much funnier by being unable to complete any because he was laughing at his own delivery.
In short order Canary Chief showed up and trivia was had, we exchanged hand gestures and he bought me a beer. I told him that it must trouble him, as an economist, to be so priceless.
In the middle of a joke she texted me again. I had texted her back when I left Rosemary behind. Now she was done eating. We talked about nothing- a natural next step after not talking at all. Amazingly I chose the party over talking to her, figuring we could talk later.
I presented Sir Francis Drake with the note I had found and the guitar's neck. He teared up and we hugged. Niether of us had even finished our first beer yet. He told the story of how I used to say "I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?" having not actually said anything. Then the customer would just look at me, utterly confused. I have no memory of this, but it does kinda sound like something I'd do.
Sir Francis... why did you have to go off exploring?
I got drunk that night, which I seldom do. I had fun that night, which I seldom do.
I made jokes about the poor placement of the bathroom, as it was just behind the dance floor so that you would have your bladder bounced by bass and your pelvis jostled by strangers. But I loved, rather than hated them, in their strange normality.
I guess I can't really explain. Let's just say I've been pretending that life is wonderful when I'm not even sure if it's worth living, and through that night it became what I had pretended it was. And even in the midst of stupid chaos I saw a spark of beauty in somebody's eye.
And folks I'll tell you. Now I am miserable. And I'm a vegetarian. But I can remember that there are wonderful people out there- even if they only exist in certain lighting conditions- just as well as I can remember the taste of a polish sausage with sauerkraut served at a certain Quonset hut theater.
But there is a moral to this story. You can't make it 4 blocks in this city without something fantastic happening... if you let it happen.