I spent a week in the Bay area in January. I wanted to break myself open against it. Sink my teeth into life there. Accept its sly smile as a promise. It felt like the glossy magazine promise of the future is possible, obvious, and true and laid out in front of you, and even though there are many shadows, the core of everything seemed welcoming.
(It was a harder visit than it would be usually – a dear friend to many of my dear ones took his own life the day I arrived, scattering chaos and grief and anger in every direction, cutting my community down at the knee. So while I danced along streets, declaring, “I’m here!”, friends and friends of friends were coming together, many meeting for the first time, to clean away bone and blood and hair and mourn and grieve and scatter his ashes by the ocean. I was hopeless against the wave of sorrow that infected my community, (some of the people affected, oddly, were tied together by only me and him), so though I regret their absence, I was satisfied that I would see my friends when they were able to see me. Security fellow, burner, goth type, black nails and a brilliant, but depressed mind, I am extraordinarily sorry not to have met him. He must have been splendid, given the company he kept. I love them, after all, and they loved him, so he must be worth near anything.)
San Francisco was slightly more beautiful than I could easily bear. The planes of the bones of the city reminded me of fire, especially from above, while the bridges were splendid hooks that tugged at my heart, magnificent as fuck, the sculpture of lights like a good rhythm that urged on my footsteps as I walked, nudging me into dance, pushing me to sing. I only flinched away from thoughts of Canada, of returning North, so I avoided it as much as I could. I wanted the city to be everything, fill my entire field of vision from the inside out. The rows of bright buildings, the windows a hundred thousand eyes gazing out upon the hundred thousand people walking by, that’s what I wanted inside my head and heart. (The crowds were especially welcome after the sepia deserts of New Mexico.) It was like being in the middle of a massive, sparkling bubble bath where every bubble is another human life.
I forgot my wallet at home, I was cat-called while I walked through bad parts of town, a bottle was smashed from a passing car at my feet, but it was all part of the flow, all part of being there. Present, relaxed. Whatever the future held, it would be better for having done this trip, to have more context to hold up against the darkness of my life to the North, have evidence that there is better, that it exists. If I could have, I would have brought San Francisco to my lips for a kiss.