Thursday, November 01, 2012

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart

I could tell you a sob story about how Sandy thwarted my attempts to go on vacation. I could, I could, but I'm just not in the mood. Besides which, it would be rather ungrateful, considering all that happened to me was a change of plans. Sandy did make me sad to be so far away from the people I care about on the East Coast, but then, the East Coast might as well be another universe right now.

Instead, there's this bordering country that's become foreign too. Because, you see, it's been many years since I've been a resident of San Francisco. More years than I realized until this weekend. And every year, as I get a little older, my remarks become more vague when the subject of returning to San Francisco burrows its way into conversation. Every year, the conversation involves more "but"s than the previous year, more arguments for why not instead of for why.

It's weird, I know, to have a relationship with a city. But I do, I did. That city, I don't know how to explain it. Except to tell you that this past weekend, CS and I decided to finally make a day of it and go into Alameda to visit St. Georges' Spirits. That place was in existence the entire time I lived in San Francisco. I tasted Hangar One for the first time in San Francisco at a shoddy bar on Sixth Street, right before heading to Bhangra SF. That place was in existence the entire time I was in medical school. A friend of mine then, who has since severed ties because that's the unfortunate price of break-ups sometimes, CC had told me about it and we had talked and talked and talked about going. But we never went.

But then last week was stressful and Friday night, CS and I admired bar shelves of artisan liquor, and a plan was hatched. The next morning, it was spectacularly clear out, unseasonably warm for October, and we drove to Alameda. And suddenly, it wasn't 2012 anymore. I don't know. Suddenly, I wasn't this me, I was a different me. CS and I navigated our way to the distillery, which is in a former naval hangar, prompting us to make jokes for a solid hour about how a zombie attack was imminent, and if not, wouldn't this be a spectacular place to film a zombie apocalypse? We went searching for food prior to going into the distillery, so that our heads wouldn't be swimming later, and we marched confidently into a building with no signs just because we saw someone standing by a piano in the doorway. It turned out to be a private party for who knows what, and we took two steps in, contemplated crashing for a while, and then left, leading to another series of jokes.

The distillery seemed to be created for us. The person pouring liquor was gregarious but not obnoxious. We liked him because, despite the proximity to Halloween, he was the only one behind the bar not in costume. We liked him because he let us taste reserve liquors. We liked him because he was amused by our utter joy at tasting gin spiced with cinnamon and cloves, and coffee liquor that was so smooth it made me wonder why I didn't like coffee. We liked him because he liked Barcelona. We liked him because we were flying, flying, soaring happy, high.

We sat and ate a late lunch in the adjoining picnic area, looking out onto the water and the bay, the sun still bright, the bay teeming with sailboats, trying to get in one last seasonal hurrah. We watched as a woman not quite as adept at holding her ethanol fell right on her butt on the gravel outdoors, and we suppressed our laughter. Then we walked through a tour of the distillery, returning back to the earth, gravity bringing us back. Sober and happy and pleased with ourselves, we drove home.

And that's how I remembered the argument for why. We weren't in San Francisco, but this was what San Francisco was to me. Little discoveries, little bursts of happiness. Messy, messy, but with splashes of vivid perfection. Nowhere else, it seems, am I ever so happy. That was something long since forgotten. Because I've been happy here, I am happy most of the time. But that bubbling joy, that soaring feeling- it's a specific thing, and it's there, always there. Someday, I suppose, I shall have to figure out what to make of that. But not today.

1 comment:

b said...

R found a crepe place next to the Charles in B'more and I was so happily reminded of spending time with you in your beloved city. I miss you.