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.

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