It’s impossible for me to see him and not think of the first time I saw him. As he emerged from dirty city shadows, I saw his relaxed stride first, chin up, slight slouch, long gait. Grin next: half of the hint of one, an expression dipping its toes in the water of his face. And I wouldn’t see his eyes till last, but when I did, they occurred to me as the real color of the sea, and as deep.
Last night I needed so desperately to slough off the abuses of the workweek and escape into that magical place at the end of a long red bridge. I dressed in thin black clothes, tall boots, and dark lipstick, donning my furry jacket at the last moment as some sort of vague punctuation, yet it turned out to be an exclamation point for others all night long.
It is tough to ignore a girl wearing a Muppet, I suppose.
The streets still confound me. My gut instinct leads me well, but I second-guess and end up in ridiculously rich places with BMW drivers flipping me off casually, as if tossing credit cards at salespeople. I flip them off back, mine more pointed, and adorned with a squid. Fuck you, Beemer, from me and the ocean.
So you know, the first time I see him again is like the first time ever, which is how this all began anyway. The tumblers inside roll and click; something unlocks. Whatever’s inside can stay there, but now the world can seep in.
And seep it does. First a showing of “The Fog of War”, which is so breathtakingly good and poignant and visually stunning I want to see it again before the credits roll. Then a short walk to North Beach. Tosca is red, red like I imagined it, and dripping in wood and coffee and gesticulating yuppies. We sit at the very end of the bar and the bartender can’t get the top off the shaker to pour the martini. Brandy hits the back of my throat while hot chocolate assaults every tooth I’ve ever had. The toe of my boot hooks behind his ankle. His hands dither between holding mine and gesturing along with the story he tells. I think back to the first story he told me, how he appalled me with the thought of sour milk; what a first offline impression to make. Already smitten, I did not gag and heave into his lap. I cringed and laughed, instead.
When he reaches for my hand, it is there; when he lets go, it remains. I watch those eyes, and hear the sea.
We take little playful jabs at each other with words, with elbow-nudges, as we head down Columbus to food. Chinese gives way to Indian; my hands are decorated with curry and garlic before long. In City Lights, he asks me to continue my Thursday story and so I do, standing above him on a step, whispering into his ear with his arms around me. He soothes with palms on my back, with words, and I let it go, because I’m right and I already know it but it is good to be touched and heard.
O, we can’t walk around without finding another suitable place for another suitable drink, but there are loud places and places with no room and places with reserved tables that mysteriously do not say “reserved” on them and generically cranky and stuffy urban hipsters who consider themselves gifts to the world. We have horrible drinks at the top of the Hyatt, and consider Bond movie scenes to take place on a slowly rotating platform. His margarita tastes like Bactine; my mojito is unfortunately only carbonated sugar. I look like I know where I’m going as we try to leave the restaurant, and instead we make a full circumference before exiting. It’s a shame I’m so confident in my absolute lack of direction, we remark, laughing.
At the end of the evening, after a last drink of water, I settle into my usual place within sheets that are familiar but not mine. Sleep comes so fast I’m almost not ready to float off upon it, but I do, relying on today to remember.