Monday, May 31, 2010

A freaking giant

The man is a freaking giant. He lurches through the train, his pants folded up to make shin-high cuffs, held in place with tiny safety pins.

How is it possible for him to find pants that are too long? His head could contain two of mine, his smile a gentle giant smile. He shakes his head, smiling, at the drunk that just got off the train. Drunk, he says, looking at me, smiling, and I smile back.

He keeps talking, speaking now to his reflection in the window, Drugs are bad, drugs, he says, shaking his vast, heavy head, and now I see that gentle giant smile is maybe a simpleton smile, maybe a retarded smile, maybe a psychotic break smile.

All the same, all the same, I smile back, getting off the train. All the same, he seems like an okay guy, just a little loose in his head, a little unjointed, pinned together with tiny, shining safety pins.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunday go to meetin'

Sunday morning. Last night, this was a dance club. Today folding chairs stand in neat rows in the middle of a wide concrete dance floor. A guy in a gray hoodie sits onstage, casually holding a mike. "Go inside," he exhorts the crowd. "Go deep inside and find what's really there, what you really need."

Two hipster chicks walk to the front of the room, each carrying a small loaf of bread and a glass of wine. They stand beneath the mirror ball as people shuffle forward, taking a piece of bread and dunking it in the wine.

"Jesus had a feast," says the guy in the hoodie. "Called the Last Supper. He told his friends to remember his body, his blood."

The band takes the stage and the lyrics flash onscreen behind them. The guys running the sound board groove to the music.

A white boy in sagging jeans stands and moves behind the chairs. He closes his eyes and turns his face up to the stream of sunshine from a skylight. He lifts his hands, palm up.

Sunday afternoon, and my route is clogged with a street fair. People in outsize platform shoes and streamers and masks, costumed up like show horses. Skin open to the sun and stinging gusts of wind.

A pack of hula hoopers writhe and roll, the hoops always in motion, now vertical, now horizontal.

One girl moves her hoop like a lover, her eyes closed, ecstatic. She turns her face up to the sun, moving her hoop like a prayer.

I make my way through the crowd to the gallery. I'm the first one here, and I find a spot in full sun from the skylight, put on a pot of tea. One by one the others arrive. We open our computers, our notebooks.

We write and we read, and we close our eyes, listening.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Three days of spring

Dolores Park on Friday: I see my first naked man after hearing about sightings for years. He is face down, belly spreading out to either side, meager buttock cheeks pinking in the sun.

The wind is whips and chains, but if you sit on the grass, you can duck below it, find the still place where sun cooks in. I roll up my pant legs and lean back on my elbows.

A group just behind and to my right speak French. In front of me is a crowd on blankets. Two girls have taken off their shirts, daring in bras. Between them and a boy in shorts lies another girl. I see just bare legs and shoulders, and wonder if she has stripped everything away, her friends acting as minimal screen, thrillingly half-seen.

A gaggle of gay boys is behind and to my left. One of the girls in her bra squeals, one hand over her mouth. A train has just pulled in. The girl gathers up her things, breasts swinging, no time to dress, she scrambles in her black boots and jeans up the hill, shouting again and again as the train closes its doors, rolls away without her.

"You go, girl," yells one of the boys behind me.

I see the friend wasn't naked after all, revealed now in a bikini with the straps down.

Another blanket island of people to my left. Men and a luscious woman, overflowing her tank top, long eyes looking demurely to one side. She lifts to her knees. "I am not a tranny!" she says loudly enough for all to hear. "I may have balls and a dick, but I am NOT a tranny."

"Tranny!" yells the boy from the peanut gallery. The woman laughs and falls back onto the blanket.

Saturday, Washington Square: The grass is full of people. A white guy with a sad little beard holds a glass ball in blackened fingers. He stands and rests the ball on the back of his hand, curved slightly backward to cradle it. He juggles the ball, spindly arms turning long and full of purpose, the ball shooting sunlight across his face.

A set of geekish kids practice backbends, leaning into each other, ankles wobbling. One falls, bringing the rest into a giggling heap beside her.

Sunday, Yerba Buena: I'm having tea with a friend, sunlight sluicing across one arm, the left side of my face. I wonder if I'll burn. A woman appears beside our table, staring stolidly. "Do you have something." Her lips are cracked. We shake our heads, slowly. "I'm sorry," I say, but she stares for a long accusing moment before turning away, pushing into a young couple's space until they have to look up, have to engage.

There are toddlers in flowered springtime church dresses. A mother holds her daughter's hands, crab-walking behind her while she balance-beams along the edge of the fountain.

Another woman raises one hand against the sun, pinching her face away from its light.

I want to absorb every drop of sun, store it in my bones so that tomorrow, in the office, it will radiate heat and grass and hiked up skirts and lazy leaning into shoulders and the quiet rustling of pages in a novel carried to the park.