From A Franklin Street Cafe

I am waiting for the wind to come and blow me away like a wild seed. I’m waiting for the wind to come and get me and put some uplift under my wings and let me fly away from this muddle and mess and dirt and the jagged rocks of pain that lay everywhere that I try to put my feet down. The water rises up and grabs me ready to have me go under and drown. Seaweed fingers hold me under and try to pull me to the bottom of ocean of pain, so here I am, waiting for the wind to come and put some space under my wings.

I never was a Breakfast At Tiffany’s kinda girl. Ditzy princess meanderings was not ever going to be for me. My boots are scuffed and heavy and I wear my heart on my ragged sleeve. I was a warrior from the start. I had to be that way, but thankfully I had a little of the poet to balance out the fighter. I learnt early to plaster on the smile and gaze off into the distance and say, “I never did mind about the little things”, even when I minded very much indeed. I learnt to have easy and sociable conversations about nothing important at all to distract people from me and back onto themselves or their surroundings. I learnt, in short, how to fly above at least some of the danger and pain.

I am a bird, a being of the air. Sometimes my wings catch fire, sometimes evil aims its hoses at me and tries to drench me so I fall. Sometimes I lose my loft and tumble to earth with a bang, or else my wings get tired and I need to land, but none of these aberrations change the fact that I belong in the sky, flying, floating, drifting with the clouds.

Some are battered upon their boats. They sit upon the water These travelers they have two fates, they either sink or float whilst singing songs of the sea shells and the oceans deepest bed. They are of the watery kind and the waves and sea foam wash around their heads.

Others rattle around on rails, darting land-bound, across ground. They tell a cold season’s tales of carriages and freight cars, truck stops and camp fires. They all seem to head south and flee north. I was no different for a while.

Some burn up and manage to contain the flame. Others flame out young and bright, singing that old Stones song about it being better to burn up and out than fade away. I always feel sad for my brilliant but generally short-lived fire brothers and sisters.

So I sit here, holding onto my sparkling water with a reusable metal straw, as a small dog scratches itself at the table next to me, his stubborn owner staring at his phone instead of responding to the tiny whines for scraps from the table, or at least a pat on the head and a ‘good boy’ compliment. The trees are barely moving in the whisps of wind on this cold summer day. San Francisco is freezing, and the street is grey and cold and dank. I have never seen a summer like this anywhere. Summer is refusing to take off, to lift itself up into heat and brightness. It is remaining mournful, resolutely grey and chilled to the core. The hipster who sold me my water and made an Americano for my son who likes things that taste strong and bitter and who should be here with me any moment now told me it is an El Nino weather pattern, and we will be cold until it switches back to the heat and fire of Nino’s feminine equivalent. My hands are sore and stiff. I struggle without a cane to walk and now struggle to hold the handle in my hands. This is not good. This is how I end up in a wheelchair and I am not ready to give up my legs just yet, not until I grow some wings and can fly above the City with ease.

Out in the distance I see a young man wrapped up in a thick jacket and wearing a beanie atop a mop of dark curls. He seems familiar. As he gets closer, I realize it is my boy. I was looking for a seven year old child and up walks this dude stuck somewhere between boyhood and being a man, awkwardly all knees and elbows and hair, yet so beautiful, so handsome, with such kind eyes. Franklin Street, the summer that tried to be a winter, 2023, with a dark and grey sky and no heat in its eyes, and me and the Boy caught in a moment of snapshot perfection. I might need another bottle of water. I want this happiness to last forever.

All around me is fog and darkness and suffering. Homeless people are scattered on the streets with nowhere to go, not enough shelter beds to go around and too much pain to share. It is a perfect picture of misery, and yet I find whilst I am still sad, whilst I long to make everything better, I remain, for once, content to be happy in my own bubble of joy. So why then, do I feel so guilty?

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