Day 51, done

And it's over. I am in San Francisco, 68/58F. Like with a good book, I want to turn back towards the other cover because I'm not so distracted in wanting to find out how it ends. I miss the middle. I miss the second to last page. Did you know the Napa grape is so loved and polished that it sparkles like sugary tinsel? Did you know that Kansas had the prettiest sky, but that once in Illinois it scared me so much I cried?

I am in a flop off of Van Ness. The dollar has given us Europe's tired and weak and it seems all they want to do is bicycle tour, buy iPods, or mouth breathe on me in dim internet cafes. They have jacked up the price of every place to stay. Good I say. San Francisco is America's most romantic city and your faithful narrator hopes they remember that to their friends. Farming, fishing, gold, shipping, insurance will ebb and flow into a town with the times; it is casual accidents of geography, architecture, cold fog, and the movies that give a city such impossible romance. New York looks up at your hills with envy she'd never confess to; for she is the City of nay-sayers, while you Californians say yes for no reason at all.

I passed through Petaluma yesterday; I mention this because I forgot to yesterday. Petaluma could be the most amazing synthesis of all cities West of the Mississippi. There is a large grain elevator for chickenfeed, a small river for transport and loft living, an historic downtown based around being an historic downtown, and a series of homes built when American architecture was at its most homegrown and tasteful. Before we imported ugliness into our academies and built rows of Mies Van der Roes, we had Queen Anne homes. Queen Anne was a style of assemblage, pieces ticked off my owners from catalogues and then shipped West -- always West -- in boxcars. The owner built the house according to his or her own rumblings, and the good people of Petaluma had good rumblings, as did the hippies who came north and saved these homes from flood and neglect.

I woke up with the idea of the sunrise and a light case of TB. I was in a dugout in a baseball field in a low hanging cloud. I biked south with the AAA map Pete gave me. As I made it further and further west I tore off the ground I'd already covered. The piece I held in my hand was the size of a coupon.

I passed by more vineyards with brunch tastings and some blah golf courses. On one green I saw twelve men in khakis sizing up twelve different putts like they were assayers. This is how we spend our precious free time and our (obviously) unprecious money. Can't we be more creative with our fun than put the ball in the hole? Does a walk need a purpose to be ruined by impatience and a reminder of our minimal athleticism?

I began to see cyclists, then I began to see lots of cyclists. People wake up early here in the Bay and they spend their Godless Sundays in nature and on their calves. I managed to catch up with a cyclist my age, Jordan, and we rode together for ten miles while he shepherded me safely and scenically to Sausalito and the top of the Golden Gate.

And then I stopped. I left something for Brenda overlooking the harbor, somewhat per John's wishes, called my brother, and then patted Rocinante on the side as we rode down to the red bridge. Red is the color of American rock and you probably want that in a bridge.

There were a lot of tourists on self-guided bike tours of the North Bay. This isn't what I'd expected. I'd expected a solitary ride down to the water. Did this cheapen the experience? Not one bit. I love cycling too much not to want to share it with farmers in Kentucky and Latvians in bleach-sprayed jeans and gelled hair.

And it was over. I biked down to the water and dipped my feet and wheels in the Pacific. I ate my last hamburger. I had to find lodging. I biked to the library and when that was closed I went to the Apple Store. When that was swamped I went to an internet cafe, and when that was a failure I went to the hotel I'd stayed at during a failed job interview out here. I showered. I bought coffee. I bought books. I bought train tickets. I bought long pants. I bought shirts with sleves. I bought a 150 dollar bottle of champagne, a 5 lb burrito, some chocolate, and other bric-a-brac only to have the cashier wave me through, gratis.

I ate my food, called friends, read, drank a small glass of champagne, poured the rest in the shower like an F1 racer, and I did a victory lap of the city. I went up-didly-up-up, and I went down-didly-down down the hills with ease and no bags. I tried to talk with everyone, but we are in a city remember and that is just not done.

And it's not over. I have to reread what I've written for errors and themes. I have a longer piece on what I've seen and experienced outside of myself that I want to give more thought. I have a short story to finish. I have a long story to start. I have a job to find. I have a connecting ride from DC to NYC to arrange. I have contact solution to buy. I have dinner with friends tomorrow. I have lodging to arrange tomorrow. I have so much more to do than get from point A to point B. Much of what I have to do has no point. I have to get an espresso machine. I have people to thank.

Stay tuned to this space for my list of top tens, likes, favorites, desert island states, and hidden gems.

Well I suppose I can get some thanks out of the way. Thank You. I wanted You to come along, I tried to give you some sense of the country and adventure, and having You with me made the experience richer because it was shared. Metaphysical question: if I fly up and over a mountain in hail and lightning and no one is there to hear me chatter, did I chatter? You'd better believe I chattered and, if this is a tautology, I chattered in large part because You made me. So thanks.

-- G.

No comments: