Friday Night At Home
Out my window I can see over the rooftops and down the hill, see the warm lights of homes, bars, restaurants. Yet in the distance, the lights on Market Street are not quite as bright as usual, and there’s a point at which they completely dim, fade away into the dark, and I can see no further. Yet I know that beyond those lights which disappear in the grey mist, beyond that cloak of rain and clouds, the familiar buildings of downtown San Francisco – City Hall with it’s gold-hued roof, the sharp pyramid of the Bank of America building, the charming ferry building, sitting on the wharf, dwarfed by the tall buildings which flank it on either side - yes those buildings are still there hiding in the dark, waiting for the gray rain to dissipate. The long line of cars that cross the Bay Bridge are still visible, their white headlights wavering in the rain, but the bridge’s suspension arcs no longer twinkle in the night like spider webs drenched in dew – they are lost in the grey clouds.
A fire burns in my fireplace and Van Morrison plays on my stereo – singing of the Healing Game - and I am home, gazing out my window, dining on cheese, cold chicken, a Fuji apple, a Hershey’s chocolate bar and a bottle of syrah.
I am not home much on Friday nights. Usually I am out and about, dining here and there, sipping coffee in some café that features a poetry reading, popping into bars to listen to jazz or, of all the things, betting on horse races – yes the latest craze. Last Friday found me at an Irish bar on Geary Street that holds occasional horse races, the proceeds benefiting an Irish charity abroad. (Hmmm… though I understand The Troubles are over - can you say IRA?)The bar puts together a race program and various bar patrons pay to “own” horses and hire jockeys. Over the course of three hours I lost 10 bucks on eight races. In race six, my horse was in the lead, but fell behind just short of the finish line. The bar plays a CD of various races on a large screen: steeplechases, fast tracks, and market races. The crowd cheers on the horses and as the evening progresses and the beer pours more swiftly, becomes quite heated – yelling profanities at horses that fall behind (yet carry a hefty bet), cheering on the leaders and the break-aways – the horses that pull up with astounding speed from behind – and guffawing – rather loudly and coarsely - if a horse trips or a jockey falls.
But tonight I am home. Watching the rain and mist and dim lights. Listening to Morrison and Coltrane and Thelonius Monk. And even though my place still isn’t quite together (I sit on the blow-up mattress in my living room as my new couch still hasn’t been delivered), I am at peace. This is indeed home, and I am content to be here tonight resting in my roost.
Ah, the rain has stopped. The clouds begin to thin, leaving a loosely woven blanket of grey wrapped around the city. The lights of downtown shimmer threw the mists, and the suspension arcs of the Bay Bridge become faint traces of light against the grey night, just barely perceptible. The City shakes her wet hair, casting a thousand and one drops of water across rooftops and street lights, brick stairways and gritty alleys; drops that scatter like small, tiny kisses and then softly, softly, disappear, leaving just the slightest trace of mystery in the night air.
Now the clouds lift, rising up and moving steadily south as the ocean wind blows gently yet steadily over the Golden Gate and down the Bay. The City rises from her damp, silver couch, dons her glittering jewelry. The lights sparkle and twinkle again along Market Street, the golden dome of City Hall gleams, the lights of the financial district brighten.
The City is breathing, moving, as a woman on the stage, performing the most exquisite dance. I sip the smooth syrah from my wine goblet and smile.
It’s good to be home.