Monday, May 17, 2010
Next Stop: San Francisco!
Tomorrow, we're leaving for San Francisco. Every time I go there, I think of the opening scene from Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (Harper Perennial 1978). (...) indicates text deleted for purposes of the blog.
Mary Ann Singleton was twenty-five years old when she saw San Francisco for the first time. She came to the city alone for an eight-day vacation. On the fifth night, she drank three Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista, realized that her mood ring was blue, and decided to phone her mother in Cleveland.
'Hi mom, it's me."
"Mom, I want you to do me a favor."
"I want you to call Mr. Lassiter and tell him I won't be in on Monday morning."
"I'm not coming home."
Her mother began to cry. "You won't come back. I just know it."
"Mom. Please. I will. I promise."
"But...you won't be...the same!"
"No. I hope not."
I've only got one class on campus next semester. The rest are on line. It's a brave new world. "Hello? Yavapai College? I won't be in on August 16. You can reach me during my virtual office hours. Make sure your messages are in .rtf or .pdf format. Thanks!"
Perhaps I would have been gutsier at twenty-five. Still, it's nice to think about.
We will go to the ocean, watch the people, pay a homeless man for a poem, listen to how we are living in sin from the street corner preachers, hug a baby seal for a cause that exists only in San Francisco, buy a piece of turquoise from the vendors on Market Street, go watch a play that involves no sound, admire the costumes in the windows and on the people, visit friends, remember friends who are dead, trip on the earthquake pressed sidewalks, hear the voice of the Muni announcer, wish I had an iphone, stand in front of City Lights Bookstore and listen for Ferlinghetti, count the number of honest-to-goodness books people are reading on the train, watch men playing drums on the corner of Geary and Powell, pay too much for a cheeseburger, pay too little for a hug.
I will listen for my characters, who have been stuck in San Francisco for (in my world) five years. In the book, they've been there a lifetime and more. I will let the clang of the trolley chase the ghosts away and ring in new ones. I will wish Jeffrey were still alive so I could give him a copy of my novel because he read it first, nearly nine years ago. I will be glad my friend Dex is there, and that we will have time for dinner together, and I will be glad I am able to travel, able to walk the hilly streets, able to pay my own way.
I will return to Arizona to market my books, start another one, try to let the last semester slip away. I will water my plants, go to my yoga classes, drink coffee at The Raven, laugh with my girlfriends, and then pack up for New York in a few weeks, grateful again that I am able to travel, walk the hilly streets, pay my own way.
"Hello? Yavapai College? Thanks for direct deposit. I'll bring you back a flower for your hair."