Friday, December 15, 2006

pretty soon now I won't come around

For someone so jaded, I sure do find myself surprised by the most obvious and repetitive occurrences. For example, last night, I was working late, and the head VP-headhoncho-person dropped by my office and chirped, "I'm just coming by to check in on how you are doing." Well, look, I maintained jadedness, because I looked at her skeptically. Much as I would like to talk a big game, VP-headhoncho-people do not just drop by my office. Unless they are announcing that they have fired someone (or me, for that matter). So, I sat there, waiting, and then this person revealed that she was actually coming by to assure me that some good changes were on their way in the new year, and that I was one of the people she valued most in our group. Why I am surprised that all these things happen now really eludes me- it's absolutely, positively Murphy's law that I will probably be offered a promotion or the equivalent next year, just as I prepare to say, "Take this job and shove it, b*tches!" After all, that is how life seems to work. But it still surprised me.

And last night, when the rain did finally let up (and today, the sun has even made a limited-run showing in the Bay Area), I walked to the market. I had made a totally sucker bet with my officemate and was long overdue on making good. So, off I went to purchase the 6-pack of Black Bute he had been promised. I was still not feeling 100%, so my head sort of plodded along with my legs at every step. Still, there is always something refreshing about a walk after the rain. There is so much hope and peace in that moment after the rain has ceased, as absurd as that might sound. It's like that every time I take a stroll after a rainfall, but it still strikes me freshly each time.

Outside, people were congregating, huddled in stoops, lingering in circles outside of pubs. I thought they were all just like me, happy to be out in the fresh air. In fact, they were mostly smokers. They looked similarly at bliss with being outside, but their peace was derived from the fact that they could finally enjoy a long, cancer-inducing drag. I wanted to hate them, but I couldn't. I couldn't hate the little punks in the stoops, who insist on staring you down. I couldn't hate the raving lunatic carrying his clothes in a trash bag. I couldn't hate the perfect yuppy-hipster family with their perfectly put-together clothes and their just-so turned out munchkins in their expensive strollers. I couldn't hate the gay couple walking their matching, naked-looking dogs. I may have willfully tried to scowl, but I certainly did not succeed.

And it's not because it's Christmastime, or because I am filled with holiday cheer. I was actually thinking, as I was walking such familiar streets, how they will someday soon no longer be mine. One particular pizzeria was decked out excessively in lights and plastic candy canes and big bows. And I thought of how that had probably come to become a kind of tradition, and how the long-time residents of the neighborhood must look at the pizzeria and smile to themselves, shaking their heads but comforted by the continuity. And as I continued down the street, I passed an apartment building and the solitary, traveling vine that winds around the corner of it, hinting at a few fuschia flowers- it was where V used to live.

And right after that, I hit a particular intersection. I do not know how many times I have hit that intersection, but once again, I gasped at the corner. Right there, after having only apartment and store facades in my line of vision for blocks and blocks, I come face to face with a view of the downtown city lights and the Bay Bridge, glowing, just slightly blurred. Framed against palm trees, it cannot help but make you swoon. It cannot help but impress upon you that you live here, and that, in that small way, you are a tiny part of this little, pretty city.

I thought of how I stay around just long enough in a place that I start to breathe it, start to know its ways and its traditions. And just as I finally start to feel a part of it, it's time to go. That won't change for the foreseeable future, and I suppose that is okay. But this time of year is about tradition, and it's the one time of year that I really notice how without tradition I am. Well, except for these late night haunts of mine, through certain half-deserted streets.

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