Fairytale of San Francisco

December 9 – December 17

‘Twas the season of wants: wanting presents, wanting reasons to wear (faux) fur coats, wanting more Irish Coffee– wanting that absolute feeling of the holiday season.

Especially during Christmas time I tend to favor Irish pubs. I think it’s the dimness, the wood fixtures and the booths that add to the closed in feeling that feels intimate to me. Add twinkle lights and a hot Irish Coffee and the magic is done. A cozy Christmas that makes you laugh and want to chug Guinness, or dance to “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues. I first heard the song in New York, our last night in Manhattan with my oldest friend dancing with strangers in Joshua Tree just a few blocks away from the Chrysler Building. Other songs in the dive playlist of that night varied from Maria Carey’s Christmas anthem to LFO’s “Summer Girls” and “Come On Eileen.” I still listen to those songs when I want to think about nights in New York, but the Pogues’ tune I reserve for December alone.

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A night like tonight has me missing Manhattan the most. There are poinsettia garlands and a cedar tree candle that burns against the half-blown twinkle lights draped over my bed, curtains drawn and the passing of cars humming in the air like any big city– this might as well be Midtown, but it’s not. Let’s try to imagine though, shall we? That this studio isn’t on the corner of the outskirts of Lower Pac Heights; I’m the second floor snug apartment of a brownstone somewhere in the Upper West Side, and it’s snowing out and perhaps I live above a bodega that’s got fat trees tethered and lining the sidewalk against a chicken-wire fence where a Rockette passing through is picking herself one to take back home when she’s done dancing out at Radio City Music Hall. Just a thought, a silly daydream to really just make me feel the Christmas spirit when San Francisco is a little lacking. It’s sunny out by the Bay, only 8 days left to really soak in the festivities around but there’s a great deal of stress at work that doesn’t have me thinking of sugar plums or even my shopping list for friends and family. And I’m alone in this city, tonight at least. I debated calling up some friends from work to join in cheap wine and marzipan while we watch A Cinderella Christmas on cable TV, but it’s too late now.

I get a call. A missed call, followed by a voicemail. It goes, for a whole minute:

Hi, Paris, I was wondering if you could call me back because– I don’t know– it’s your boyfriend– and if you could call me back that would be wonderful! And, I don’t even know what I would do without you calling me back– because it makes me so upset– and I’m upset with you right now not calling me back while talking about you not calling me while I’m upset and I just get so sad while I’m so upset– OK babe, I’ll call you soon! And I’m not upset… I just wanna talk to you! And– ow– I kinda fucked up my knee tonight– but I won at Fantasy Football, so… that happened– I don’t know, I love you! I will talk to you soon, call me ’cause I’m leaving to go to the Rockefeller Tree right now– by myself– and…yeeeahhhh…OK, I’ll talk to you soon, goodbye babe!

I call him back before I even saw I had a voicemail, but I wait now on his promise to call me back once he’s reached Rockefeller Center so that we can Facetime and he can send me Snaps. A soft voice, filled with rye and shots and sincere lament about me not being there when he sees the tree all lit up. And as I wait for his face to light up my phone screen I put on the kettle for some Earl Grey, sit in front of the space heater, and listen to the Pogues again, singing about a night like this I imagine, somewhere out in the streets singing Galway Bay and throwing punches at the sky.

Almost an hour goes by and nothing. I call his phone twice and when it goes to his voicemail I don’t want to think the worst of anything but somehow I still do. Although, I’m not quite sure who’d want to pick on the lanky young white guy in a hoodie and Packers jersey– they did just lose earlier that day after all to the Panthers, and no one would want to fuck with a fan, not during Christmas. Too cruel, no?

But alas, a call back! Turns out, it was just a dead phone. 3 percent it was at when he hung up on me only two hours earlier. And the tree at Rockefeller Center wasn’t even lit up.

“I was confused,” he tells me. “There was only a hot dog vendor and he said they only keep it lit up in the early evening. I feel like an idiot.” I tell him he’s not; he kind of is, but for all the antics any wasted person could partake in, walking alone to Rockefeller Center with the promise to call one’s girlfriend is beyond one of the less stupid things. Instead, in our beds halfway across the country from each other, we sink into conversations about the night and what he’s been doing in New York, catching up with his college buds from St. John’s, the possibility of being stranded there if the power isn’t back up at the Atlanta airport where he’s supposed to fly into Tuesday for his family, and how we wish we could both be there where he is now.

So far, and yet, this is the closet I’ve felt with him this Christmas. Not when we drank from 11AM to midnight in ugly sweaters during SantaCon or danced like bosses in our suit and floor-length red gown on the balcony overlooking the Verso dance floor during my work holiday party with an Old Fashioned and Dirty Shirley in hands. He took off early that night– that was a punch to the gut of an already short night that was meant to be a magical moment for us to really be together. But the farther away we are now, we’re enjoying our company best.

I go to sleep now, with that song still fresh in my head, lights out, and turning my face away to keep on dreaming about a night in New York– at least a memorable night that felt so real, thanks to a fairytale sung tonight.

 

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December Comes for Fillmore Street

December 1- December 3

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December is the one month that makes itself known. All other seasons and months creep into each other, seemingly like the last week before it and then you’ll start seeing flowers bloom early, leaves turning brown and falling one leaf at a time, and maybe the temperature drops or rises a few degrees beneath fog that never goes away. December is an entity on its own, the diva that makes her hurrah and appearance at the 11th hour of the year. I read on Facebook from a pretty-font picture shared that “December you’re last, so be the best” or something to that sentiment. And doesn’t that ring true, and pretty literally, as bells high and low around this town and the world ring with merry and cheer and to signal that Christmas and Hannukah and the lights of the city and coming home for the Holidays amidst the dark days and cold is here. You just know.

Every year I know when it’s December, you just see it. And I saw it for the first time in the way it should matter, frankly. My neighborhood, the very streets within proximity to the very air I breathe in the mornings and before I go to bed at night. The neighborhood you live within is how you make your bones in this city, the place that gets you up in the morning and motivates you to taste everything San Francisco throws at you. The steep hills lined in paint-chipping Victorians leading from Van Ness and through Japantown up to Fillmore Street. I live here, and it’s only right that I feel the most alive when walking around these streets whose unique stories I help create and feel obligated to tell. It’s a good thing San Francisco is a tiny space of 7×7; it’s big enough where I easily neglect to hang around my own neighborhood in search of other exciting ventures beyond its borders like the Mission or Hayes Valley. But tonight, here I remain, and here I see the month makeover the neighborhood at the arrival of the diva I proclaimed December.

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Fillmore Street is the hub of Jazz on the West Coast, or it was where it fermented into the phenomenon that brought life and  bohemia and inclusion beyond the Mississippi. In one of these shacks Allen Ginsburg first exposed the words of his infamous Howl to the literary likes of Beatniks before they knew what the hell they were (and reveled in the namelessness), and it wasn’t called the Harlem of the West without the endless nightclubs lining the street that I now call home, and jazzed up in a different way from that of the 40’s. The music being sung tonight is a typical hum of classics being crooed from beyond the doors of the storefronts lit up in warm white, a glow familiarly cast throughout the year, but spectacular when heightened by the strung lights between the bushy trees that pave the sidewalks. Saturdays the rivaling cafes Peet’s and Starbucks cater to the crowds out and shopping and wandering up and down in and out of these stores, but as we pass Starbucks we see in its quiet facade it is not the victor of this evening. The cup of hot peppermint cocoa cupped in my hands is bubbling and perfect and from Peet’s anyhow, with its pristine corner spot and spacious seating that always spares a few open chairs no matter the crowd size. Too bad theirs doesn’t smother my cocoa in whipped cream on top.

I’m walking besides my boyfriend as we meander up Fillmore towards Pacific Street, a dark peak overlooking the shadow of the bay amidst the buildings frosted in cold and more twinkle lights. We stop at an Antiques store with its door closed to the red walls where shelves house spoons and painted jewelry boxes and fine china that make me nervous sitting close to the edge of the shelves. Outside is a bargain table, all entertaining just the same, especially with a silk top hat, a bit shabby, sitting atop some of the goods and ready for my boyfriend to try on. He smiles at me, and politely declines my offer.

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Turning around at the new Blue Bottle that’s taken over the old vacancies of Tully’s Coffee and the relocated magazine shop Juicy News, we occasionally stop and inspect the new restaurants that cross our path, examine the menus, and mutually agree that we don’t come out to eat here often. It’s mostly me going to his in the Outer Sunset. A corner restaurant is long and dim inside and there’s nothing on the gray walls, but it’s crowded, the new restaurant that I later find is The Snug– it sadly looks anything but.

The Room’s monthly midnight showing is tonight at The Clay theater, 12AM on the dot. It’s a special month though, one that sees The Room more in the spotlight as usual thanks to James Franco’s tell all new film The Disaster Artist. We tried seeing that earlier today, but $15 is still too much for a ticket in the wake of all the Christmas shopping and deposit-saving that looms in the back of our minds. If we had money, we wouldn’t be wandering here, anyhow.

Lastly, disgusted by the $50 mini trees at Mollie Stone’s, we circle back to the narrow shop of the Paper Source, dear to my heart and a monument to my past. Only three years ago I spent a bustling holiday inside, name-tagged and running around helping new faces to the tiny paper craft and stationery store where I ran workshops on gift-wrapping and card-making and quoting invitations for hopeful brides and realized that I was meant for behind the scenes, creating and not catering to. But the store looks nice as it ever did, the new seasonal kits on display to show how easy they are to make, the quirky wreath-shaped tinsel sunglasses or the calendar art pasted against the walls where the punny cards collect dust. A Fillmore Street exclusive delicacy to the store is the Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints– I wonder if they still damage the boxes to mark them out for the employees to snack on behind the counters.

Talk about magic. It’s a beautiful night in the neighborhood this first week of December and it’s not as glamorous of a stroll as Christmastime in the city is sung about. We didn’t hear silver bells, the sidewalks aren’t crowded, and there is a slight chance you can step on dog poop in this dark. All the more charming and unique to the way I start this year’s festivities, and unique, as I sit down on the steps of an apartment building I don’t even live at, to the scene before my eyes where a new home comes to life in a way that only you can see, and know, that a most wonderful time is upon you.

 

Sister Magic: Massachusetts

November 9 – November 14

The first time I ever was on a plane was with my sister, three years ago. She was headed to New York in July for a business event and I was tagging along for the adventure, for the milestone in my life that would become the floodgate for my love of traveling.

In 2017, we found ourselves together again, driving along a narrow road as twilight turns into a cold evening in a town thousands of miles from home again. She’s following the lagging Google Maps directions from Salem’s waterfront towards an old neighborhood off of Proctor Street. At the corner of Proctor and Pope, we accidentally turn off from the directions down a winding road past a park they call Gallow’s Hill. That’s exactly what we’re looking for now, the true site of the hangings in a time in history so fixated in the imaginations of me and my sister growing up. Except now we’re driving far away from what we came to see, thousands of miles from home, together.

It all starts from a plane bound for Boston, going nowhere near Boston for more simpler, charming pleasures of the old towns along the eastern seaboard. This was a new adventure in the making– my sister hadn’t been outside California in those last 3 years since dating her ex and now since her ex was slowly coming out of the picture, new sights were set for quality time away from the hurt and struggles of work and the breakup back west. Out here, it was all just us.

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We’re not the most aligned sisters. She’s outgoing, blonde, and loves her country music. She can’t stand San Francisco. I’m too weird and awkward for her– but to her, that is exactly why we’re on this trip. One night when we’re in the hotel– the charming Inn at Crystal Cove on the shores of little Winthrop on Boston Harbor– she was on the phone with a friend.

“I love being with my sister,” she says. “Her weirdness brings me out of my comfort zone and to have the most fun.”

This whole weekend is out of our comfort zone– 20 degree evenings, frustrating traffic circles at almost every turn, Dunkin Donuts, and rustic names for towns all dated to the 17th century like Lynn, Revere, Marblehead– Salem. I personally found myself drawn to the New England life in these past few months, just as autumn approached. Something about the stiffness, the unchanged tune of these roads and towns sitting among the salty Atlantic air that once was proclaimed the New World. Something charming, that’s what I see. I try my best to plan this trip to the best of my adventurous abilities following preppy bloggers and diving deep into recommended restaurants and activities on their stomping grounds of the North East. Google mapping these cities as if I had lived here my whole life, and that for this weekend I was showing my sister around town.

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It isn’t the perfect time, losing phones in apple orchards and an overcrowded little diner when we were desperately in need of coffee. No Warriors games, but plenty of Patriots fans, flags flying high, knitted beanies snug on the heads of teens and liquor store shoppers alike. Being out of the comfort of the West Coast doesn’t mean excitement at every corner, especially when that next corner might be an accidental exit that nearly drives you into the ocean.

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But, at least my sister is here. No, at least I can be here for her. And together, we enjoy the bumps in this road trip so far from home, along the 95 North towards Amesbury bristled trees with the last of the fall leaves latched to their branches, to the coast where we avoid toll roads and beat the sunset back to our town where Parmesan truffle fries and pistachio martinis await. The memories we share will always flood back when we sip peppermint hot cocoa (“We don’t have syrup,” the young lady at Rockport Fudgery laments, “but I can add some of this peppermint creamer instead?”), listen to Joni Mitchell, and find ourselves in the company of police officers– my sister particularly fond of officers since she exchanged numbers with one. But the best reminders will be Salem, for that was where we both found amusement and true magic in the history of the town, the hanging dried herbs for Wiccan altars and the various stones we plucked from baskets to add to her much-sought Love elixir that we read in the mini red velvet spellbook we were buying. Discussing the formula– stones of different values and energies soaking in drinking water for 7 hours– was the main course of lunch at the Witch’s Brew Cafe. The stones, forever stored away neatly in the cotton satchel embroidered with pretty pink and purple flowers, those we’ll save for when she needs them the most.

Salem is where I conclude this tale of New England, turning back on that dark road past Gallows Hill Park to where the directions tell us that up ahead on Pope Street, we will find Proctor’s Ledge. I know it’s dark out now, and there won’t be much to see, but to be so close to where much of this town’s legacy is rooted will be a wonderful way to pay our respects before we’re called home. Pope and Proctor come up, and onward we drive, 300 feet, 100 feet, 50 feet–

“Was that it?” My sister asks. She’s looking back at the dark hilly patch nestled between big new homes before coming back up onto the corner Walgreens. “That was,” I tell her, realizing the car is too far gone to reverse or make a U-turn or to do anything to redeem and savor those few seconds of seeing the Ledge. Well, it was a shot we took, albeit a shot in the dark.

We’re still at the red light near the Walgreens. “Do you want me to go back?” My sister asks me. I shake my head, she’s already been complaining about her dry eyes and barely seeing the road this late. Still, she turns left and left again back onto Proctor Street, going back through the neighborhood to give me one last, lingering look.

She slows down this time. Still dark, but in the dimness I can make out the slabs of cement where in the daylight you can see the names of the victims from 1692, a single tree at the center of this newly-minted monument to honor them in unison. My view wasn’t much better from the first time. My sister asks if I want to go back and see it again.

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We’ve made it this far, twice now, but that’s all I needed from this last night, a memory that now holds more magic than anything we’ve seen in this Old World. And I’ll only have to look back on a memory, the kind of magic that can never be lost.

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A Twilight of Sorts

October 9 – October 15

It was Sunday around 11 when sleep was ready to take over my stiff body lying down on the couch when I smelled the smoke. I swore I was not crazy; I woke my sister up to make sure she could smell it too. It seemed like it was just above my head, maybe only in my head– but it grew and sweltered in our little apartment, no heat but just the thickness of a smoke nearby, like a wire spark. I opened the fire escape but the alley was dark. I looked out onto the street, nothing. Nothing, but something was up.

And then the ashes fell in the morning. A sheath of crusted gray covered the car and on the tops of tables outside of cafes on Chestnut Street. We wouldn’t be sitting outside in this stinging air except we had Bentley. A week later, whether it was the smoke or just because of his daycare, he would get sick, congested, a bad cough.

All through work I stayed in. I never noticed how cool and sharp the air 41 stories high in this building was. Stepping outside meant your hair would smell like the pack of Camels you didn’t smoke. It meant deeper breaths stifled by the quickly-ascending sick that couldn’t be shrugged off anywhere there was open space. A pink, hellish haze blanketed the skyline, the Golden Gate a clouded patch of whiteness, nothing.

Friday the 13th seemed fitting to fall right in the middle of this nightmare. At least in the city, it didn’t feel like one, but the devastation, the fear– it loomed and made everyone uncomfortable even if cities away from the true hell that was happening north. But it was on the 13th that something spectacular happened. The evenings seemed not darker, but cooler. Smoky, but a mist where pixies waited in the shadows. I was reunited with old friends and they with my new ones, and new friends uniting me with their olds. Walking around those nights as the fires burned bright and deadly far off, but here in this city it was dark and shadows of the night outlined lonely houses and twinkle lights edging the windows of second-floor apartment windows and living rooms. I remember only feeling good on those nights, not sick– not panicked. But I still felt strange. How was it these seemingly magical moments were on the worst of times for this place I called home? To the North, it was all nothing. Nothing was left. Everything was burning.

It is only I realize that, in the wake of these fires dying now, that feeling of hope. Something always magical lingering. All that remains are stories of devastation but just as many stories of love, hope, miracles. Odin and his goats, the wedding rings rising from ashes, the half-charred photographs that still possess those never-forgotten memories of the humans who may have lost everything, except that happiness, those moments. Though I cannot understand the total loss and devastation of what happened beyond the dark, the dark is only fleeting now. In the morning, it will be a different sort of light, the kind that warms without burning, the new day and moving forward and not without lifting up our neighbors in need.

You can find more information on assisting/donating to the Fire Relief for Northern California here

Row Boat for Sunday: Summer Vignettes

It’s a luxury that I’m used to be completely secluded with my loved ones. It was last with faces from college when our boat was Rihannon, and now in a nameless rower we’re still just the two of us, untouched and separated from the beauty of these old trees and turtles below that find us circling and troubling these shining waters where as we try to stay afloat, we’re still falling in deep for each other.

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Magic Moment

October 4 – October 8

And just like that, the magic is upon us.

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October magic. It’s what they used to say about your baseball team when they made it into the playoffs, it’s how you feel when you see your Halloween costume on for the first time. Something wonderful this way comes, and when they say the Most Wonderful Time of the Year on other days– well, I can’t help but think Hallmark is wrong.

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In California, it’s a different kind of magic. The weather up along the coast is warmer for only so long and the Pacific looks bluer, when you make your way out to it. The way we did, it was a backroad, a bypass I never knew existed having only gone up and down the 1 so many times. But there’s dry hills there, a lake we pass over, dark trees scattered at the bases of this new landscape that are usually dusted by the Marine layer. It was a lucky day to be experiencing this magic, discovering a new road and just like that it brought you back to the past. The last time I was in Half Moon Bay was five years ago. I wore a funny outfit with tights worn under shorts and long leather boots with a white fleece scarf– in the spring. We were exploring the town, family and I, and my sister’s ex boyfriend who wasn’t really supposed to end up an ex. Everything was green and the houses around the Main Street seemed beautifully aged, not old. Today things seemed old, a bit run-down, but resigned. Happy. They live the good life out here on the water, far enough from the city yet close enough to be the perfect day getaway for anyone looking for a bit of that magic.

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Scenes of Half Moon Bay, 2012.
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By the sea

And when you come here, to the waterfront, the Brewery where dogs lounge below in the shades of the tables, kicking up the dirt at the many pumpkin patches lining that backroad in between the cracks of the foothills smothered in sunshine, you better not be alone. Have a dog, it’s the best. Have a sister, she’s truly your best friend. And have a partner, a lover, the love of your life so that when you experience days about on small adventures like this, you can actually stare into each other’s eyes and feel blessed that though one day, there will be other days to follow. A small party to take in the day, to sit around in a car while music from high school is blasted driving along the same waves where the Mavericks happen. Too many people make you feel alone, makes the moment forgettable. Too many people might make you forget that you’re wanted.

Half Moon Bay is a little known treasure to those within the Bay Area. And we all know the best time to see it is now, on a sunny day in October when the small town is glowing, explaining its most popular even the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. It’s a pasture of heaven, worth the drive, a true breath of fresh air for anyone longing to feel those true affects of change during the fall. Change for the best, in this case, as you see the town get comfortable in its own skin beneath the sun.

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There is no reddening foliage from the few trees, no log cabins, no crisp cool air or button-up plaid. This is fall in California. Almost perfect, a bit off, never-changing. It stays the same– and it only matters if, as the visitor, it has changed you.

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North Beach Gallerina: Summer Vignettes

July 3- July 9 2017

She’s flowing between the hot lights that cast eerie glows on the black canvases pierced to the walls where faces melt, familiar faces with second eyes and splattered screaming mouths. She’s thrilled to know them and walk and waltz there among the artist and his now laughing muses with their second wines. It all ends when a promising night stabs her in the back and on aching feet only her one spectator in the crowd steps in to lift her from the stage and home in the dark of the Sunset.

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See the works of Emilio Villalba here.

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Mark on the Jackson

January 23- January 29

This is a confessional about modern love hang-ups. It starts with a guy named Mark.

I saw Mark again. He’s got short, wavy hair and I usually see him in a gingham button-up under a dark jacket. It doesn’t matter what bus I usually see him on but today it’s the 3 Jackson line. He tries to sit towards the back in one of the four seats that face each other; I’m lucky enough to sit towards the front. I’m sure he’s seen me. There’s no animosity or past between us. We just happen to get off at the same stop, there on Gough and Sutter. We only talked once.

The only reason I’d want to avoid talking to Mark is just because I think he thinks there could have been something. Maybe at one point, maybe in that one evening ride when we first made small talk about some debacle that just happened on the bus around Polk Street, something that got us laughing at the absurd happenstance of any Muni ride. He was new to the city, getting a Master’s at USF and gleefully I spoke up on how proud of an alma mater I was. He made a great choice. He could have been a choice for me. But there were decisions I was already making– already committed to a second date to someone else, somewhere else. Someone who now isn’t anyone other than the love of my life.

But there are times where I still think, if Mark was the way things should have been. Here you have a young woman whose whole life revolved around the stories of fate and chance encounters that turned into greater stories, and after many of not-so-great encounters, resigned herself to the new world of modern dating. And it worked for her, the way that her chances faired better than her colleagues and friends who’d been on apps for months, a year– six months later, here she was, head over heels with the second man she matched with. And then out of the blue, Mark was on the bus again.

It’s been about three times since our first meeting, and the second time he came up to me and asked how I was. Thank God I remembered his name to save me from just an awkward reunion. He seemed really glad to see me again, and I won’t lie that it felt good to have a stranger’s face seem so satisfied to say “hey.” But the guilt came over me as I talked as politely as I could trying to brush him off, to get off the bus and head in the direction that I needed (it didn’t help we got off at the same stop, but at least turned into different directions). There was a brief moment of rejoice in seeing each other, and nothing more. I didn’t want him to think there was more. And by the time I saw him the third time, he got the hint.

I still can’t help but think, as in love and happy a relationship that I am in now, the way that my love life happened still gets me. I hate saying it, but it was inauthentic. The hopeless romantic in me still thinks about the ways I might have met boys or in the case of my boyfriend, if we would have ever met on the street by chance, no swipes involved. Would it ever have happened? What bars might we have nudged shoulders at? Whose car would we possibly have shared in an Uber Pool together? Could there ever have been some fluke accident that would take my boyfriend onto the very bus I ride, far away from his own work and route? Would this city have given us a chance on our own? Still sitting and thinking about the ways I could have met my lover in countless scenarios I’ll never have, I wonder if this is still all how it should be.

But Fate is Fate, no matter how you plug it into your life– it doesn’t just stop once you’ve signed up for the League or Bumble. From there, it’s still up to Fate on who you meet. And count my lucky starts, but friends who’ve been on the scene longer than I have are still there, looking, waiting, waiting for Fate to finally work itself out. My fate was decidedly more unique. It was easy. It was easy the moment I gave in to dating apps and let go of my ideals of an organic romantic encounter. And that’s the way it was supposed to be. If Mark was meant to be given any chance, then I would have met him a week before I’d signed up for CMB, weeks before I started feeling those butterflies for someone I had still yet to meet up with for a date but couldn’t wait to get a message from. Mark would have happened sooner if it was meant to be anything. If I was meant to meet my One and Only on the street, I wouldn’t have hit so many dead ends walking around this goddamn city.

I start thinking about everything that’s happened in those six months since I started dating someone. Think about those things, and replace his face with another and perhaps everything else about him. Put Mark in his place. In the place of the movie dates at the Castro or meeting my friends at the office on a Friday night for cheap drinks or by his side as I plan his hypothetical birthday out to John’s Grill. Would he have given even a shit about coming to hear my live reading revivals? I’d be looking up from the mic in the dimly-lit basement tearoom of the community center there in the Haight, right next to the Church of 8 Wheels roller disco, there in the small crowd and I’d look in his face, forget my own words in my mind for a second to reassure myself that he is there for me and wishing for my success up on the tiny stage. I think about these moments in my life where someone else might have been, and it kills me. Because when I start thinking about “what if,” there is no more what if, there is only now the sobering thought of can you imagine? I cannot– I will not, I will not forget any of the happiness that’s been brought to me on my own terms and fate designed for me. I am happy now, meant to be happy in this way with these memories with someone who everyday I thank God for not passing up that second day of matching in that first week on the dating app. Whose face I look into every day and comfortably associate with all those memories and moments I don’t have to hypothetically think about because they were real– and know that this was how it’s all supposed to go.

As an overthinking, anxiety-ridden person, I don’t feel ashamed wondering this as I see a familiar stranger’s face again. I think about everything, and then I remember that everything is good as it is. So simply put, I saw a guy on the bus again. A guy whose name is Mark and is a student at USF and who could have potentially been the love of my life. But he is not. That is life, and that is the life I love right now.

 

 

 

Storm Days

January 9 – January 15

All of a sudden the rain came.

What seemed like Karl the Fog just hovering over this city slowly turned into a well-planned coup of nature, the dark skies thickening as the mist lifted and the streets and deco houses of the Outer Sunset became visible again, only to be glossed over by torrents of rain that went from heavy to light. The feathery kind felt the deadliest— you underestimated how wet you’d really get until you’d been walking for at least four blocks.

So in the wake of these next few weeks you take extra water and Coca Cola from your work, maybe some Cheetos and chewy chocolate granola bars. You put these in your big bag, an old worn-down Eddie Bauer leather tote that used to belong to your parents and now can fit all these resources alongside the toothbrush and pair of pajamas and socks— because you’re shacking up, but shacking up elsewhere.

A movie night is much needed after weeks of cold and getting back into the groove of the work week, the new year— the last days of Obama and the America as you know it. It’s also been too long since seeing your boyfriend. You have only met up twice since reuniting since the dragging Winter Break. So bring on the storm— let our love keep us warm, as the song goes. But really, we’re gonna have to snuggle lots— it’s actually the best way we can beat the icy apartment he lives in that’s dropped to 41 degrees before. But no heater will be touched, as it’s a sacrifice worth making to save money for other pleasures of this godforsaken city.

I like rain. The petrichor is fine and the slick of cars going downhill on the roads winding through Pacific Heights can be heard so crisply against the wet pavement. It’s a metallic sheen that is as deadly as it looks without the right shoe traction. Sounds like a travesty. To me, it’s a pause in time. The usual protocol of sunshine and roses is easy for everyone— when you’re out in the rain beneath that gray sky, all is quiet, few people are about and only are walking somewhere out of necessity (unless they’re like me), and it’s like the everyday tune of a bustling life is taken a step back for the quiet. The peace. The reminder that it’s something you should do once awhile: pause and remember those beautiful moments when they’re absent. Even though the present state of weather in the city is just as breathtaking.

We wake up and though I heard the heavy fall of the raindrops from overhead on the sky roof that shadows this tiny room, there’s nothing now. It looks rather bright up top, like the sun broke through. We’re shacked up in layers of blankets and socks falling off our feet in a room that’s small but long just like the man whose love I’m entrusting in to keep warm during this storm. And it’s sunny out. But we’re still together, rain or shine, and though disappointed, we’re not going to let this weekend go to waste.

We start by never getting up until maybe, 2 hours after we first woke. It will then be 1 and my sweetheart’s already left to go fetch us some fresh hot coffee and those maple donuts sprinkled with bacon bits on top that I love. There’s never enough glaze though, and so I tell him to make it two for me. Me? I won’t get up until I hear he’s back and setting up the dining room table and the TV. I walk out and smile at the small gesture he’s done towards starting our late day. I’m just delaying time to use his bathroom— there’s still only one bathroom I’m comfortable using and that’s just mine.

I’ve seen my city in the rain many times before— its lightness as it descends gracefully through the air forty stories up from downtown, its illumination against the old yellow streetlights of Sutter Street all the way through to Fillmore where the trees get too heavily drenched and let off the water like little waterfalls from each leaf. But the Sunset feels exactly like a blank canvas, stretched out and devoid of trees and plenty of spaces to be painted over in the evening dew. As the sunlight dims out we can slowly hear the sticky pavement on the cars and crystalized beads latching onto the glass of the front windows of my boyfriend’s place. We’d been awaiting this only with extra shows, ordering in bland Thai food, and a refreshing shower in the evening that I very much enjoyed despite being not my own bathroom. The best part of all of this was warming up, getting through another season of my favorite show, and jumping onto the couch, acting like the worst was over. It was only the beginning.

This isn’t going to be a long recollection but just one of a moment in this week, a few moments about rain in this fogged up city. When the fog is too much, it gives gracefully out and then fiercely into nearly two months of dreary, pounding storms. We did finally get the rain. Terrific it was, as a second movie night was moved to my place amidst strung up twinkle lights that I’ve kept all through the months from my birthday party and the scattered blankets and pillows on the floor where we are joined by my sister dining on Village Pizza from Van Ness.

Now this is the movie night I had in mind, one enjoyed against the storm days of San Francisco outside and away, away from the company I now enjoy. We set ourselves up for this moment, with the late afternoon awakenings and disappointing sunlight and tasteless takeout, all that’s a part of what makes two people really enjoy each other’s company for this cold, wet day.