Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This City is hard to love. The first day that I got here I took the bus from San Jose to the Caltrain Station in SOMA. I boarded a bus and quietly sat in my seat. I had just moved from San Diego and was suitably dressed in a pink Roxie Sweatshirt, elevated black flip flops and long blond hair. I smiled at the other bus patrons, they ignored me.
After about 5 minutes I noticed a man staring at me. Well, at least one of his eyes was staring at me; I then noticed that his dog was also staring at me. The pitbull with the muzzle. The man was furiously whispering to the dog and then returning to stare at me. He seemed angry. No, he seemed PISSED. I started to pay to attention to what he was saying, it was something like, “We fucking hate her don’t we doggie. Yes, that’s right we HAAAAATTTE her. She is such a bitch.” Well you can imagine my surprise, my pink, blond surprise to have someone slinging such hateful comments in my direction. It was my direction, right?
I gazed around the bus. Nope, no one else seemed to be sitting in my area and he was definitely staring this way with at least one of his eyes. Around this point I started to get nervous. I mean, no one else was even looking at this guy, much less looking at me. His comments began to get louder and louder and his face more and more red. He was really, really mad….at me! It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t getting any help from anyone else on the bus. As a matter of fact, some of them looked, well, happy that the whole event was transpiring. I thought the logical thing to do was get off the bus at the next stop…..
In the Tenderloin. I stood on the street with my red Adidas bag and my pink sweatshirt and took in the grime, the fecal matter, the three men smoking crack in the bus stop and wondered what the hell I was doing in this City. Why in the hell had I come here again?
Well, I came here because this City is fantastic. I remember driving home from a court appearance in Oakland one afternoon and feeling my heart just swell looking at the City. Even though it’s damn cold and I had to throw away all my tank tops and open toed shoes, I had found a place where I could waive my freak flag. I had found a place where my liberal mouth was not met with mute horror but smiles and agreement. I had found a place where I could be as weird as I want to be, and believe me, I want to be weird, regularly.
Today I still encounter random moments of San Francisco that make me exhausted or nervous, much like my first meeting with the one eyed homeless dude on the bus. Sometimes a panting, half naked patron at the Safeway on Market will bump into me and I’ll shudder, thinking wistfully of clean wide aisles of the suburbs. But these moments only last a minute or two and then I’m on the Muni gleefully watching some City newbie be tormented by a dirty, drunken freak. And I like it.