I wish I could paint and capture the light in San Francisco in November, at 4.25 in the afternoon. The sky is bright, but the heat has drained out of it. Instead of the burning 70 degree eternal summer of the San Francisco Bay, the night cools off quickly bringing breezes and dusk-rays into my room. I prefer those days that are full of fog and rain. I suppose at this end of the year I am absolutely ready for some cold wet weather, a need which is never quite fulfilled since I became a Californian Baby. A temporary dip into that marine layer that this city is famous for, is something I welcome. By March I will be tired of it, and long for some crystal clear bright cloudless blue sky days. But for now, and I speak for myself only, the resentment is building against the sun that never seems to want to retreat into winter.
The sky is a soft dove grey, dashed with milky clouds and a few vapor trails. The street is dark grey and dirty as always. Clouds of flies collect a few doors down drawn there by the trash that has accumulated. The grey of the buildings dotted here and there by glass and brightly colored paint and brick, murals and graffiti blends into the temporarily gentle blur of city life. No one is shouting they have got that ‘Cal Fire’, no one is fighting. I heard there was some looting down the road, but not here. Nothing worth looting here. Everything is peaceful and mediocre out there in this late Monday afternoon haze. It is as if the Upper ‘Loin took a collective chill pill and headed for their tents and their sofas, a quiet local bar, or a hip cafe.
I never did make it to Colorado, I will have to make do with Warren Zevon singing about hauling ‘around Denver all day’. I think I would have liked it out there. There is something Beat about San Francisco that makes the mid west of Denver seem appealing. I guess there is no ’49 Hudson to take on a road trip, no Jack or Dean. No Wolfy or the Beastie. I suppose those links have been made and retrodden so many times that psychic links between the two cities have been drawn indelibly along the maps and the freeways. I hear the road calling me to Denver. Country roads going home, Kerouac and Dean Moriarty weaving from the mid west to the west coast in search of a story or an adventure, I don’t know. Whichever, whatever, it doesn’t matter I guess. The road can’t forget, and neither can I. The trip is never finished, the road is never over, even if the trip-mates have been scattered by the four winds, and that all that there is is left in the softly dying dusk of a San Francisco afternoon in 2021 is this. I don’t think I will make it to Colorado now. The world will fall apart long before I could ever make it out to the Rockies again.
The street is eerily empty. No street struggles. No noise except the cars that keep on driving right on by. People criss cross. One woman decides to dart across the road right in front of my window. She makes it by a hairsbreadth. I wonder why. Why not? Living dangerously in a grey world is sometimes the only way to stay sane. That must be it. Either that or she would rather risk life and limb than walk 50ft. I get it, I dig. I mean I’ve played that reservation slot machine game trying to earn enough points to camp there overnight when we were desperate. I found the dull risk and reward jive tiresome. I would much rather have just given them the money I lost and they let me camp, without going through the pretense of gambling and losing anyway. My piddling little $5 bets are not exactly comparable to playing chicken with the traffic. I didn’t care if I lost, I was just trying to get a ticket to camp overnight. Ms Chicken Player could get squashed out there.
I suppose this city squashes the best of us and deals with the rest as it sees fit. The orange and yellows fade into the blue of the early evening. A star or a satellite shines hanging in the over lit light polluted sky. The lights start to blink on in the apartments opposite. A man walks this way. A woman walks that. A wino sets himself down on the curb to rest. A pigeon flies east to west. The trees sway lazily. So much of what this city is is bound up in the weather: the fog that softens the blows of the day, the bright warmness of winter. The cool summers. The sea air, salting the savor of the city. There is something about the quality of the light here. Neither too harsh, even when it is brilliant, nor too dim, not even when Thanksgiving is screeching into sight. Time flees like the light at 5pm in winter, sucked into the ether.
I wish I could paint a picture of the light in San Francisco as it circles the drain, and is lost out of sight. They say you can always bank on the sun coming back up, especially in this golden state, but these days, who knows if that is true. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day it decides it is sick and won’t be coming to work today, then takes off for a road trip to another universe to see if the light is any better appreciated there. I doubt it. The universe is an ungrateful bastard with a Creating Hand hovering over it, waiting to squash the life out of it if it doesn’t measure up to par. I am not brave, not brave at all. I have an impossible dream that the world will right itself and carry on as it should. There is a real disease of superiority and division happening out there. A creeping surge of authoritarianism. Somehow I feel both at the sharp end of it all, and shielded from it here. It never really gets dark in San Francisco. There is always a light shining somewhere…