Friday, June 24, 2011

Tourist Season

I arrive in SF about 8:30 each morning. Since I'm riding BART the cacophony of the City is a welcome relief from the incessant whine of  the train. Today The City smells amazing- cooking beef, roasting coffee and surprisingly, the sweet smell of Jasmine. Tatters of fog slide above the building spires taking the dirt and grit with it, at least for an hour or two.
Street people hang out on the Plaza, staring, whispering, singing laughing. The day promises to be a good one. I wait for the light and cross Market, checking the tall clock that hovers over the Chronicle Building. I have fifteen minutes to walk the mile and a half, I don't have to hurry, but I keep a steady pace anyway. Others are walking to work along the same sidewalk. Women in pencil skirts balancing cups of Starbucks and cell phones, men in suits on bicycles, kids on skateboards, fat men, skinny women with babies in tow,we all are on our own personal missions. I cross over alleys named after whores- Minna, Clementina,- step around dog shirt, vomit, and road work. I am careful to check over my shoulder before stepping off any curb. But it isn't all bad.  I keep my chin up, admiring the two story murals and advertisements.Bright orange and yellow nasturtiums, blue green Aloe plants taller than a man and scattered patio pots of vivid red geranium add the note of humanity that we all crave- even in the canyons of The City.
Reverse the route and I head home. This time I pass orange and black clad Giants fans heading toward the park. They are tourists, holding hands,keeping their dark glasses on, bumping into my shoulder in a mad dash to make the first pitch. They aren't the only ones. I hear snippets of conversation as people pass me, German, French, Russian, Spanish. I see cameras slung around fat necks, hear the slap of feet in thongs as they scuffle along, necks craned back to see what little bit of sky there is to see on Market,as if the skies over San Francisco are somehow different than any other sky. And over it all I hear the tinny ringing of bells. Cable car bells calling the crowds. And they come...