Monday, February 27, 2006

A Mildly Censored San Francisco Rhapsody

It’s pouring rain in San Francisco. It’s nighttime. I’m in a black Mercedes Benz that’s winding down the famous tortuous curves of Lombard street in Russian Hill. I’m sitting unnaturally straight in my heated leather passenger seat, terrified, thrilled. The driver is my literary hero, Kate Braverman. She’s my boss now and we’re coming home from the grocery store where she let me pick out anything I wanted and put it in the shopping cart.

“Normally I never drive in a monsoon like this.” She had yelled over the music.
This then, of all moments to take me down the most treacherous, scenic street in the whole city.

“Look at this,” Kate says as the car hinges itself over the horizon. In front of me, down below, glittering in the rain and fog is practically the entire mystical Valhalla of San Francisco. “I like to come here and say ‘I’m the girl in the postcard.’ You can be the girl in the postcard too.” She says yanking at the wheel with two hands like we’re aboard a schooner on choppy seas.

My eyes fill with tears.

It took me 8 months to figure out a way to get back here but I did it.

Sometimes when I fall asleep the last thought on my mind and the first one I have in the morning is simply “California.” Sometimes the last thing I whisper to Mark at night, and the first thing I say in the morning is just “California.” And we smile at each other and into the darkness of the room. The California darkness. Then I have trouble falling asleep because I’m excited about California. I bounce out of bed early in the morning for no other reason than that same electric thought: California.

This is not my life. And it is. I’m here. Buying peaches to seal the deal on February. Perhaps the only February of my life through which I’m not stalked by overpowering impulses to negate myself. I’m here. I’m sitting in the study of the woman who wrote a novel that turned me inside out and shook out the guts that clung to the lining of my being’s pockets. I’m drinking her beer and she’s asking me what I think about the passages her French translator has recommended for readings. I’m practically mute. I pick up a copy and follow along as she reads. Again, I’m almost crying.

Kate keeps saying I look so much better than when we first met almost exactly a year ago. “I mean what have you done? Did you gain some weight?” she asks. I navigate the shopping cart out into the drizzly night. “I had a rough spring last year, Kate.” I admit, knowing that’s all I have to say for her to understand what I mean. “And,” I add, working up a tearful grin, “I moved to California.”


Anonymous becca said...

I'm seriously so jealous. California. California! I'll whisper it to myself tonight too, here in Chicago, like a magic charm.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Saerah said...

Do you think "Oregon" would work, too? :)

5:50 AM  
Blogger Abbyg. said...

I'm not sure if there is something inate in the word itself or if it stems more from the way I feel about the place. Try the incantations! I'm looking out at the bay right now. I can see alcatraz. I'm so close to the water I can see the sea gulls skimming across it.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Mark Pritchard said...

California, baby.

(Not the Mark she meant.)

12:57 PM  

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