Today was one of those blue sky, no cloud days that only California can do. There is a different quality to the light in this state of mine, a certain crystal clarity to the way it shines, that is missing the dust of the heartland, the swampiness of the south, the dirty sweat of New York City, the unfiltered burn of the inland portions of Washington state, the blow torch scorch of the Dakotas in summer. The light in California glows golden and warm like the light in a hearth or a firefly twinkle. Inland California is too hot for me, that fire is turned up a little too high for my liking. Out here in San Francisco we have the fog, if not the all the amphetamines or pearls, though you can find them too if you just look hard enough either to the open air markets of the ‘Loin, and the fancy jewelry shops in Union Square.
This city is like a woman behind a grey organza scarf, a dance of the seven veils performed under the cover of fog and the blanket it throws over the light and the heat and the summer sun. That marine layer haven that sees Her cold and breezy, cool and covered, her bridges and islands, parks and peaks smothered under a softening haze that makes everything milder, more comfortable and somehow diffused through the prism of the sea that lays out to the west. West. West. Always west in order to get out to the eastern shores. Japan laying beyond the foam and the grey, and the watery plain expanse of the seas. I am left always defining myself by my proximity to that island to the left of me where I left my youth and my hope, my love and my desires somewhere between the Ome Kaido and Shinjuku Eki, on the tracks of the Yamanote Line, being run over this way and that until part of me is left imprinted on the rails and the stones, my blood in the soil, my dreams tied to a Mickey Mouse balloon that escaped the wrist of a child to last be seen in 2012 flying out towards the Pacific Ocean heading prematurely towards San Francisco.
Sometimes I look back to my teenage years, sitting in my bedroom listening to Love’s Forever Changes, I remember thinking how much I would love to live in San Francisco in the summer of love, back in the 60s. Of course time travel isn’t possible, but as I listened to the California sun, the acid-soaked jangle and the sweetly psychedelic lyrics (“the snot has kicked against my pants, it has turned into crystal”, anybody?) the most honest wish of my heart and soul was to live in Arthur Lee’s California. Quite how to get here from there was a mish mash of chance, fate, and desperate men. I can see in my minds eye, the Goddess casting her attention down at me in my desperately miserable state, abused by adoptive parents who hated me, a lesbian who society expected to accept men into her body – I used to weep after fucking men – and taking pity on me, set in motion a series of events and other peoples dreams that got me from one side of the chess board to the other, by way of here, there and everywhere. Now I look back at that girl and want to cry for her. She deserved peace. Perhaps finally after all these years I can finally give that inner child some of what she needed. The actions needed to move me from There to Germany, from Germany to New York, from NYC back to There, and then from There to Japan and Japan to here, boggles my mind when I think about it.
The series of events that got me to this point where I am sitting here on my mattress with my pretty orange sheets, looking at San Franciscan city trees, and the street lamps that glow on the edges of the ‘Loin lighting the way up to smarter areas of town, with my pretty sunflowers in a grown up vase, not a cut off sprite can that I usually used for flowers, are unlikely to say the least, still they happened, and they made up the better portion of my life so far. I don’t have as much ahead of me as I have left behind. Heck, I haven’t even had a can of Sprite in years. Im banned. I’m not saying I am trying to live forever, but I am at least trying to make it long enough to do something with my life, and get the Boy safely to independent adulthood. I drink warm tea and filtered water. I am boring. I am dull. I am happy.
This road is almost deserted by late afternoon, looking outside my window there is the usual plastic bag tumbleweed doing somersaults down the sidewalk trying to affix itself to the legs of unwary travellers, well it is the wild wild west out here. Ive loved the perfect symmetry of tumbleweed, as it gains some semblance of life and wanders the roads and highways, following this wind and that person, on its way to nowhere a human can understand at all, like a plant based turtle heading to the sea. Who knows where the tumbleweed goes: its final destination is as elusive as the end of a rainbow. Perhaps the pots of gold are all surrounded by tumbleweeds and rainbows while leprechauns dance and Big Foot does the SweetPea with Elvis Presley. If they find my lost koala sock out there caught up in the woody thorny spheres, I would like it back.
Black trash bags shuffle and mingle with discarded blue masks and clothes that have been shed by people who have to carry their homes on their backs. I am sitting here with no bed frame and no sofa, no desk and no chair, no tables. No furniture at all. A friend is helping me out with some things for the apartment, yet I am too scared to buy things in case I have to carry life in a suitcase again. I am deeply permanently scarred by my life. I feel more solidarity with the people outside ,whilst being infinitely thankful I am not out there. Sometimes I long for the road, I remember what it feels like to pull the house up outside of Freddies or Walmart and hop out of my passenger door, trying not to break a leg as I did so, with Billy yelling out to me “Don’t forget to get things for YOU! YOU! Detroit…GET THINGS FOR YOU!” He knew me well. With limited resources I put myself last always.
I would buy food and the essentials for everybody else then take what was left. It is my way of showing love. It is who I became. It was how I could live with myself not being able to provide the life my babies deserved. I would get them tiny treats and go without food. I would buy paints and lego figures, National Geographic magazines and dollar boxes of good and plenty, and plead lack of hunger. Sometimes I would get one meal every three days or so. I learnt how to live with it. It was hot things were. I never got lunch, I had no money for it. I never got more than tea for breakfast. These last few days, not hiding rice cookers, I have had breakfast at breakfast time, lunch at midday and a supper. I have been able to make tea when I wanted. I turned on an oven for the first time in decades (Japanese homes do not have ovens, and I have not had an oven since I got back here in 2015), and baked a potato. It was heaven. It was living. It was nice.
Earlier on today a naked man, his blanket tied around his neck like a cape, his white skin blackened with grime and dirt, from his face to his balls, from his arms to his shoeless feet, wandered past my apartment. The blanket-cape streaming in the breeze behind his naked ass, four sheets to the wind, sack crack and all, his bloodied feet leaving damp dark red patches on the sidewalk. He was high. Not high as kite, not high as the empire state building. He was stratospherically high on amps, tripping balls by the looks of him. Striding confidently, nekkid as a jaybird up the road. A passer by/ co-star in his own private passion play/victim came scurrying towards him, a small slender older man in round spectacles rocking some seriously cool cord pants and jacket game. The grimy, sooty, chimney dwelling superhero approached the owlish gentleman, got up close in his face and yelled: “Do it! Do it!! Dooooooo IT!!!” The small man let a smile play across his gentle blank face, sidestepped Don Quixote in a blanket cape, with the grimiest balls known to mankind just inches from his nice clean green cords, and calmly, quietly, slowly walked on down the line. He didn’t even look back. He didn’t run, or shriek or yell or react. He just walked by. Don the Naked stopped, dumbfounded while the whitest G in San Francisco, sauntered off peacefully. “What the FUCK is wrong with you, man? What the FUCK is WRONG WITH YOOOUUU!” Not a hint of incredulous stunned pause in his step, nor smile on his face, the owl faced man kept on walked slowly. Don gave up, hands thrown up into the air in frustration. That is not how that is meant to go. A few steps later a woman appeared in his direct path. “Do it! Do it!! Dooooo IT!!!!” He screamed at her, his genitals flopping semi hard, pointing at her half heartedly, dejected, not really into the game his mind was playing. She screamed. He laughed. She ran. He stood there on the intersection of ___St and __th Avenue and whooped. That was what he was talking about. That was the good stuff. That was the reaction. That was his other addiction. I shut my window, made sure the poor woman had made it away from him safely, and called the Boy.
I had let the Boy go out alone today. Sent him out to have keys cut, and run a few errands for me. “Honey. Naked dude, screaming at people. He is at the ___th end of the road. Don’t come home that way, OK? I texted clumsily. “Lol!” He replied with a little skull emoji, and I proceeded to stare out of the window waiting for Boy to make it up the road, which he did safely from the lower end. When he made it back in, he was still laughing. “Butt naked?”
“Butt nekkid.” I replied, and went back to my staring while he put away the shopping.
A cute young gay couple walked up the street holding hands….”It was 100 in Vallejo last week” said the short haired sweetie with the french bulldog, …”still wasn’t as hot as you, though…” His darling giggled the laugh of a man that knows he is being flattered. He pulled bulldog and owner closer and kissed him on the cheek. I love San Francisco. “A House Is Not A Motel” rings out through my apartment, “At my house I’ve got no shackles, you can come and look if you want to” Arthur sings, as the Goddess laughs, her little game of chess partially satisfied, as me and Arthur dance around the living room, capering and sliding on the wooden floors, yelling “I hear you calling my name!”
A woman walks past holding a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and a box of nori sheets precariously balanced on top of it. Her hair hangs long and golden around her shoulders. Arthur intones “and if you see andmoreagain…then you feel your heart beating bom bom bom bom”. He is right you know. He is right…
Here is to the dog days of a summer that passed too fast. Here is a toke to the skateboarders that slide down my hill, dicing with death. Here’s to the parkour jumpers, the naked riders, the lovers and the losers, the fighters and the peaceniks, and all the tumbleweed that goes onto places of my past.