On the Streets: The Other Side of the Window

empty seat

The blonde zoomed up the road her legs widely gripping her motorcycle, leaning into the corner at the other end of Post. She had a light helmet on, no face shield. She was riding that hog like it was the front runner at the Kentucky Derby and Hunter S Thompson was chasing her while on a particularly active ether and adrenochrome drive, she was pushing it forward, urging it on, tight ass high in the air, knuckles white on the bucking and rearing Harley. I have to admit to stopping and wondering WHO was this woman on Post with the black Harley with some kinda gas tank prettiness inscribed upon it that was too much of a blur of speed for me to decipher. It is not often that you see anything good on Post. In fact this end of town none of it is any much good or fun.

Today the Kami of SF shined on us or rather drizzled. It was raining beautifully lightly, a strong breeze, lots of fog in the air, cold enough to wish I had a thicker shirt on and to huddle inside of my denim jacket. I read the news today, and it is a horror show of wild fire, dangerous heat, and rolling blackouts. It isn’t the same San Franciscan bubble I’m living in. They are in summer, I am in winter. They are burning, and I am getting drizzled on. I guess every loser deserves to win now and again. In weather like this the cold and the fog sits here at the bottom of this hill, chilling bones and seeping into joints and through gaps in doors. On a bad day, it can be five degrees colder than the rarified heights of Russian Hill. I was glad of it today, just reading of the burning temperatures of Canada, of Washington and Oregon made me want to slink deeper into the Loin and hide in the puddles of bad weather we all live in down here.

Walking up with a kind woman who lives a few doors down, up to California’s pot shop so she could go in and get me a little weed, just a little stoooone to knock the edges off for a day, I was in an uptight, shoulders by my ears, tightly wound coil sort of funk. It is not every day that someone decides to bleed from their esophagus and leave me sickened and nauseous and panicked. It is always a risk to get stoned when you are emotional. Weed never used to be difficult, not temperamental. Hash was something that could be smoked all day long and was no more problematic a ride than beer was. The modern weed is a little more troublesome psychologically, it enhances feelings, and so needs a little more leg and rein on the psychoactive ride, but finally my shoulders feel like melted butter, I’ve hot chocolate running through my veins and there is a lightness I forgot was possible, even if it is accompanied by a small knot of intense emotion.

The woman on the Harley with her ass in tight leather pushed in the air leaning into that corner wasn’t looking for the upset she caused, or the feathers she ruffled, or the men she caused to slow down, or the women they would tut at her recklessness as she rode towards the bay. She was flying on her own terms, and I envied her freedom.

You see, even in my bubble walking down Geary I am a living ball of concern. I am concerned for the bum I had to basically step over, I’m concerned for the people I get in the way of, I am concerned that if I don’t do today right, there is no tomorrow.

Everybody was huddled into their jackets today, it was almost good to see the city get hygge and cluster into cafes dressed for November not June. There was a woman singing opera by the side of the road. She does this occasionally: stands and laments rather than performs for spare change. Always the same Brunhilde in yoga pants, always the same spot, and only a few bars. I stared closer at her today. Perhaps she is a very occasional coke snorter letting the exuberance of living out into the air? Just once a month line or two kinda girl maybe, and when she does she likes to stand in the road and sing the final few bars of The Ring. Joni sings “Woman of Heart and Mind” into my ear, her ‘scorn and her praise’ melting with the opera singers soaring notes from the street. Do you think my valkyrie is disappointed after the rush dies down? Do you think she is left ‘on the empty side’? Joni always has a word to offer a saddened Brunhilde, who having ‘shot the shaft with brave knights’ failed to gain the winning blow. What is a child of the air to do when she just has to sing it out? The cut-price tenderloin princess snaps out of it, spins around herself, as if to ascertain exactly how far she has travelled from her starting point. I wish she had kept singing, something about her voice, ethereal, in the fog and the rain, was honest, and good and true and real and that is real rare beans out here, real rare.

A young man wrapped in a yellow blanket, cardboard on the soles of his boots, hauling a trash bag of treasure (an alarm clock, pink, looked like strawberry shortcake, a fishing pole and a single white-at-some-point sneaker) tries to dodge Odin’s maiden and her possible ability to choose who lives and who dies on the streets, waving her hand sending this junkie to Valhalla and that reddened and swollen old hobo to Freya’s Elysian field to sit under an apple tree and tell stories of when a raven picked over his bones on Polk, while the wolf turned it’s head and walked the other direction.

It is still raining outside, it’s a soft rain, a gentle rain, a welcome balm from Odin himself. My Brunhilde stopped singing a while ago, out of fuel, out of time, out of the road and out of the rain.

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