Sunday, February 20, 2011

A certain delight

I glance out the window as I leave the apartment and see sunshine, sunshine, and then a quiet shhhhh and a curtain of rain is falling, the shhhhhhhh like a whispered secret, thundering into my heart.

I step outside and see tiny white pebbles popping into being on the sidewalk. Not rain, then. Hail.

Rain and hail, and I squint at my weather widget in the middle of the night, at the graphic of snowflakes, the temperature in the '30's. I never see the rumored snow, but it's cold and wet, rain in sudden drops, over in moments.

At the bus stop, a man smiles wide, It's so cold! he says. Yes! says the woman beside me. And the rain!

We seem to take a certain delight in the sideways weather. We smile at each other from beneath our umbrellas, hats, hoods.

It's evening, and I'm helping at the opening of an art show. I'd expected a small crowd, San Franciscans are easily put off by bad weather. But I'm pouring drinks as quickly as I can, more people appearing, shaking off the rain.

At one end of the bar a man turns, and I see his face: Jello Biafra. J. gets him a beer before I can hop to it, and he disappears.

It's late, the art crowd is putting on their layers and slipping out the door, and there goes Biafra. I pout, and my friends shoo me down the hall. He hasn't left yet, they say.

He's at the door, and I'm one of those fangirls, but I have to thank him. Your music kept me sane when I was a kid, I tell him. He remembers the last show I saw him play, in Seattle, during the WTO riots. They'd closed off downtown but kept open a route for people with tickets to the concert. Helicopters overhead, tear gas, craziness outside, but inside it was Biafra with the WTO Band. It felt like an ark in a storm, and we didn't want the show to end, the lights warm, the crowd surfing the tide of music and adrenaline, the brotherhood of protest. We believed we could change the world. The world changed us, but sometimes I can still find that belief. The Egyptians changed their world, and the inspiration is catching. It's spread all the way to Wisconsin.

I'm glad you kept your hair gray, says Biafra, on his way out into the night.

It's after two when we lock up and head home. The rain has stopped, lights shining on wet streets.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's Sunday and still no post

I can bring myself to the writing the way you drag yourself to do the dishes, one after another, the water flowing over a bowl, a plate, sun is shining in behind you and the sound of the water becomes a song, you had only meant to clean one or two but now the rhythm has you, you are wiping down the empty counter, dishes stacked and dripping dry, order restored, a little space opened up in your apartment, a space in your head where you can breathe and see a scrap of horizon.

If I tip my head to the right and shake it slightly, out falls the woman with the black leather eyepatch and upright 'fro, sunshine cutting down the north side of Market, the man on the bike arguing with the guy from the store that sells cheap Giants t-shirts and Raiders hats. The store guy demands his money, and the man on the bike, his mouth full of sandwich, replies, If you want to make a claim against my estate...

From him to my morning run, past the store with its doors open and drop cloths and ladders and two men in white coveralls with paint rollers, past another runner and a morning-shifter with his lunch in a paper bag. The guy in street-person clothes: layers and layers, short over long and all mud and dark colors. He startles at the sound of my feet slapping pavement behind him, his shoulders relaxing when his eyes dial in. It's still pitch black in the canyon of downtown, but when I get home, the sky is pale out my window.

It's been early spring for a week, and a girl in a pink, one-shouldered sundress steals my breath. I watch her where she sits in the cafe, her bare feet jiggling over her flip-flops, wide mouth open and smiling at what she reads, her awareness of her own beauty, bare shoulder an aching reminder of better worlds hidden somewhere in her curling hair, in the blades of grass outside.

The sun has shone and I've worn skirts and walked until I was browner than a week in Mexico, but tomorrow the rain is back. Tomorrow is Monday, and work, and maybe dishes, maybe a morning run along shining wet sidewalks.