I Remember….

I remember excitement, big waves of energy rushing through my chest and into my head, causing an electric smile to shine across my face.  I was finally here. I had finally made it.  I remember The Giants winning the World Series, and actually being excited after being infected with the spirit of the city. I remember chasing buses with an Asian school girl after ours was cancelled on the day of the big parade for our beloved Giants. I remember feeling mad and anxious after being shooed away by a bus that should have let us on. I remember running through the city on a cold gray morning, stopping only to consult my phone map and friendly strangers, “ which way is Geary St?!” I remember driving through the The Presidio with Mark, grey canvas top down singing to Mermaid Avenue, after he ( astutely) accused me of listening to “ sad man music”, I remember hulking shady trees dropping shadows on our freedom filled heads. I remember walking. I remember walking. I remember walking. I remember glimpsing out a bus window, and watching a man urinating on Leavenworth, old white penis in his hand, visible, 730 am,  “so that’s why these streets smell like piss…..”, and then I took a sip of my  hot Peet’s, noticing my lack of emotion at having seen such a thing…  I remember the view from the parking lot at UCSF, The Golden Gate bridge, in the morning and at dusk, a little kiss on the cheek from a city I planned on commiting to. I remember getting lost, rolling down windows, asking for directions, faithfully driving while looking at maps, being honked at,  I remember being scowled at. I remember being yelled at on the bus by a  grouchy old man “ These seats are for OLD people!”,  I was afraid I’d miss my stop so I sat in the front, “there are plenty of open seats!”, I spit back,  I was growing thick ruddy city skin…..I remember crying on my walk  home from the BART station having been scolded once more by a small middle aged black woman who displayed a deep perma-frown and reeked of hate, she punished me for standing in front of the bus exit. My thick skin had been peeled off, it hadn’t yet had time to set. I remember UCSF and my interview,  having been guided by a nurse I magically met at the bus stop…I would have never found it without her…I remember cheap foil wrapped chocolate in bowls, questions about wound care and leadership, and compliments on my coverletter.  I remember the nurses looked mean, no one smiled, I remember my smile was big enough for all of us. I remember lounging in Dolores Park, “weed? weed? weed?’, a tall man in a baseball cap chanted as he walked by me, my bare feet and toes making love to the  non-smokeable cool green grass, I  giggled, “nope”,  I remember a boy with a guitar who  told me I looked pretty in white. I remember my red notebook and I  felt  like we could stay here forever.  I remember running 3 miles around a lake, body sweating, Bob singing.  I remember birds, people, trees, trash, and life in all its glory stuffed into this space.  I remember a parking ticket, parking meters, parking nightmares, scratched fender, tears. I remember helpful friends.  I remember crazy people, lots and LOTS of crazy people, people wearing their afflictions on their sleeves. I remember feeling helpless and small. I remember full blown joy. I remember sunshine and cool air.  I remember a heat wave and no air conditioning.  I remember not getting the “perfect” apartment on Church street. I remember being very, very, very,  bummed out. I remember feeling like I had been rejected by a lover, one  I had spent hours fantasizing about.  I remember sailing under the Golden Gate bridge, managing seasickness and wondering how his lips would feel on mine as his hands worked the wheel. His invitation came weeks later, the day I decided to leave….. Damn it. I remember anxiety.  I remember feeling like I was forgetting something supremely important. I remember an impending sense of doom,  and stuffing it down, way down, deep, deep, deep down …..popping back up in the middle of the night, in the morning..WHAT AM I FORGETTING?????? I remember hope, faith, confusion, exhaustion, breakdowns, breakthroughs….. I remember bridges, water, traffic, lines, noise, coffee, yoga on every corner….. ( if you don’t do yoga in this place, you smoke weed, if you don’t chill out with either of these,  you drink alcohol, maybe you do all of these….If you do none….I’m guessing you’re MEAN, or living on the streets….most folks dig Mary Jane, I dig MJ, but didn’t hang out with her in SF.) I remember magic and then I remember nonmagical dates…..no one special, lying…saying, “call me”, because that seemed like the thing to say, confessing no chemistry. I remember feeling bad for fibbing. I remember watching the words, “call me”, fall out of mouth AGAIN, I remember realizing I may have a disease…  I must stop dating.  I remember craving mountains, big red rocks, familiarity, friends, simplicity, S L O W N E S S. I remember missing the desert like I miss my child ……. I remember feeling like I can’t wake up out of this nightmare…I remember love and gratitude, good friends, support… I remember sharing a Ben and Jerry’s smoothie with Mark on Pier 39 and making  plans for my 39th birthday…. I remember a floating man-made island  with an underwater restaurant. I remember sea lions, people on bikes, people eating ice cream on a sunny 50 degree day. I remember people smoking pot in public, people talking to themselves, people everywhere. I remember no empty spaces ….. I remember fullness… I remember NO SPACE… I remember sick people getting sicker, nurses blaming patients, doctors blaming patients, patients afraid they will die in this place. I remember feeling ALONE. I remember feeling ALONE.  I remember feeling ALONE. I remember wishing I had parents. I remember sharing this with S, I remember her love was true. I remember greed, self preservation, cold,white floors, bright lights, Filipino food at 3am, borrowed benzo’s, taking it down a few notches….. I remember confusion, sleeping on a cold bathroom floor, wrapped in a rented white blanket.  I remember fear, mental congestion, exhaustion, and eventually surrender.  I remember a very dirty car, neglected, 4 months without washing.  I remember move in, move out, move in, move out. I remember move in, move out……I remember driving  a very dirty car towards home, both of us beat up and tired. I remember confusion, relief, and deep regret. I remember not expecting to leave. I remember having to leave.  I remember the familiar taste of sadness, to be savored at a later date.

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