hi, nice to meet you, my pants are soaked and i’m pretty sure i look like a crazed railroad engineer with my baby-bird rain-damp hair sticking out of my cap just so. i didn’t even have time for a breath mint. hi.
these are not thoughts i want to think upon first meeting a person. i would rather always be assured that i looked the way i pretend i look before i glance in the mirror as i jog out the door in the mornings. that look: the one that says, “hell yes i just did my hair, now styled in a careful careless arrangement of layers, and yes i just fell into this very stylish yet blasé outfit because my closet contains only stylish yet blasé clothing that bespeaks considerable fashion sense tempered with a realistic attitude towards spending one’s paycheck.”
translation: my mother-in-law cut my hair and my entire outfit is from wal-mart. accept me!
pride is an awful thing. i picture it as a particularly precise, intestinally weak pigeon. as you shimmy down the street, awash in thoughts of how wonderful it is that you, of all human beings, on all days, in all universes, can look, sound, and feel so unbelievably cool, pride will shit on your shoulder. so there’s something to be said for walmart clothes after all.
we are all aware of my sick fascination with public transportation. i was psyched today to take the light rail to meet my new friend at the caltrain depot, because that particular line skims the embarcadero, and to be perfectly predictable, the embarcadero is my favorite street in san francisco. it’s not even a pretty street, but i love the fact that unlike all other surface streets it is called the embarcadero, and so it is my favorite.
it is raining when i leave work, almost skipping down the street under my dainty little umbrella. i wait in montgomery station for at least ten minutes until a very bored voice on the intercom informs me that the light rail line i need to take to the caltrain depot is not running. this is bad, very bad. i was early before but now i am lost, and lost always means late.
i have no idea what bus to take. i’ve left all my maps back at the office, being so very sure of myself. i’ll just walk, i decide. so i set off down market street, make it about twenty feet, and someone throws a gallon bucket of water on my knees.
well, not really. but that’s what it felt like as the wind pushed the once-delightful, now-sideways rain through my corduroy (so unhip they’re hip) pants. that’s okay, i manage. it’s just a few blocks away.
a mile and a half later, twenty minutes late, i find her standing patiently. i cannot feel my fingers, and i’m pretty sure my mascara has drooled in those unmistakeable tammy faye bakker lines down my chubby little cheeks, like i have been crying for my sins, please forgive me lord, all i wanted was to take the fucking n-judah to the caltrain depot, a ten-minute excursion at most, would it really have messed up the atmospheric balance all that much to hold off on your downpouring wrath until after lunch?
but then my new friend smiles at me, a warm, genuine thing, and i forget that, or any of my other petty obsessive worries for the next hour, and it’s all good. we have a ton of things in common, and some things not at all in common that make talking with her really interesting. i talked a lot more than i usually do on first meeting, but it wasn’t a bad thing.
i realize while talking to her how much easier it is to be offline than it ever has been. sure, there’s still the second-guessing, the worrying, but for the most part i’m not always trying to evaluate and/or revise what i say when i say it. conversations online can become so stilted with the confusion of “what tone should i read into this” and “will this sound like a joke or do i need to add a smiley” that they never progress past statues we make of each other. once sculpted, we can’t fix their flaws. and time wears them so slowly; how can it keep up with the changes we eternally make?
not to mention how fond pigeons are of them.
slowly, halsted, slowly, i remind myself, watching her smile again and bounce brightly; i am bouncing internally but i can’t show it, not yet. i have to rein this in, write it all down, or i won’t ever understand how i got there and therefore have no clue how to fix it if it ever were to crack and crumble. i have lived so many steps ahead of myself that i forgot my present as it was happening. no, not this time.