photo by jenny bolis...
San Francisco is an odd city. It seems to be filled with ideas that never fully form but ache to expand and push forward. Is it too poetic to write that it is a city full of possibilities hidden in the fog? Maybe so. But, they are hiding there. These promises hang in the air. Half-starts are all around here. I like this "incomplete-ness" for some reason. And, by and large, I have always found it to be a "friendly" city. Everyone always seems to disagree with me on this point. Tho, I am happy here. I enjoy roaming the city, feeling the rush of sun and cool wind that managed to make me both sweat and shiver at the same time --- and, I never fail to have some form of adventure during the course of my day.
Today, I had to "run" an errand. I say "run" because it was more of a slow walk as my back is still hurting. I didn't have my iPod with me. I forgot it. I passed a large group of folks from somewhere in China. There was an overly happy white guy standing in front of this group of puzzled-looking people. So, I found myself stopping for a minute to listen to what this almost manic man was saying. He spoke too loud. Like those annoying people who think that a non-English speaking person will understand them if they scream every word.
"If you get lost, just reach out and stop someone and say, 'Help me! I'm lost!' This is a VERY friendly city and you will be assisted!"
A queer urban hispster was standing next to me and he chuckled. I turned and looked at him and he said, "This IS NOT a friendly city! Yeah, reach out and touch someone. That'll work!" I smiled and he walked away. He was wearing really cool orange shoes.
About an hour later I was seated on an F Train headed to the Castro. A man who smelled like old newspapers got on at the Powell/Market stop and asked me if I could spare him a dollar. I reached into my jacket pockets. I had five quarters. I gave him four. His hands looked so dry, tired and old.
I smiled and said, "My mom used to give me incredibly small amounts of money and then advise me to not spend it all in one place. The funny thing is she was always serious about that."
We both laughed.
We rode on in silence. I watched out the window wondering what things had gone on in some of these seedy little hotels you pass when going through the Tenderloin. I think we had been riding about five minutes. And, this man, who had been rolling those four quarters from one hand to the other, turned to me. He thanked me for speaking to him.
"You're the first person to actually talk to me in three days. I had started to think I was invisible. A lady gave me a dime an hour ago and asked me not to use it to buy drugs. What a stupid bitch. You know why I wanted this money?"
"I have to do my laundry. I stink. I have to do my laundry and she gives me a fucking dime and thinks I'm going to buy drugs. With ten fucking cents! I wanted to throw the dime right back at her."
I laughed. He laughed. The lady across from us looked at us with this look of total disgust.
"This is my stop! Hey, kid, you have a great day!" ....The man got up and lurched forward as the F train sort of slammed into the stop. I pulled out my wallet and handed him a five dollar bill.
"You'll need that for the dry cycle."
He took it, smiled and jumped off the train.
Maybe this is not a friendly city. But, I like to pretend that it is. Of course, this has always been my problem. I love to pretend.