I have gone from several years of complaining of not knowing enough people in San Francisco and not having enough to do…to a pleasantly opposite state. I’m busy. Perhaps too busy. I still haven’t read the exciting dénouement of ‘Kolymsky Heights’, my current mystery. And it is not because I have no interest. In fact, the hero is literally all at sea, as I write. The Bering Sea to be exact. So, yes, this blog may be short one.
The Gubbio Project is among my weekly stops. And even there, the experience is feeling more like, well not home exactly, but familiar. I feel welcomed. Of course everyone feels welcome there, I think. That’s the idea. I do have trouble staying awake there, I will admit. After all, the place is dedicated to napping. And my duties, such as they are, hardly keep me on the edge of anything. Still, there is ‘edge’ potential in what I do. Perhaps talking to more of the homeless people, or even tuning into what happens around the exchange of such high-value items as disposable razors, toothbrushes and socks.
And now there is the also weekly tutoring session, which actually kicks into regular gear next week. I have already met the kid. Quite an amiable and animated little guy who is behind in reading. I want to tell him that I am behind in my own, still in the middle of the Bering Sea, which I find unbearable. Never mind. At least after one visit, the kid strikes me as enormously charming. We played checkers. I couldn’t recall the rules, having not picked up a checker in something like 50 years. He either didn’t know the rules too or, I suspect, didn’t care, making them up as we went along. Splendid, I thought. I don’t care either.
But I care about him, so I have already discovered a project. We shall rule together. I will find a printed description of how to play checkers. And he and I shall read it. Is this his level? Haven’t a clue. I see this as a no-fault reading experience. If he stumbles over the words, even every word, what the hell. I still like him. We shall move on. Even if I have to read the rules aloud.
And then, at regular intervals, there are the performing arts. With so much happening in San Francisco and with one of us still in full time employment, we don’t make it to everything. But we did make it to ‘A Little Night Music’ in a new, locally produced staging. I found it utterly entrancing. Which, no, it doesn’t really state the experience. I found a tale of late-in-life amours deeply moving. I am, after all, an old guy with a fairly young love. Jane and I have only been together 10 years.
Sondheim’s score weaves in and out of the action, as does his small chorus of lieder singers. It is a concoction of bold artifice, utterly beautiful and exciting. And now that we live in San Francisco, such things are only minutes away. So is the guy I see about my anxiety, a practitioner of a physical approach to fear. Again, being in the city makes it easier to find such people. The neurotics market is big, I suppose, and I certainly do my bit to contribute.
And I even feel confident enough about contributing to begin to pick and choose where I volunteer. I remain interested in public transport. But this is a big world, spanning the city bus entrance system, the nation’s trains and airlines. I dabble in all these areas. Maybe I will keep dabbling until something sticks.
Meanwhile, I stick to Cup, the cappuccino joint down the hill. I like the Nicaraguan couple who run it. I like to see the range of locals who frequent it. Young professionals on the make. Volunteers tutoring. Firefighters and police and paramedics and parking enforcers on their various breaks. There is a fabric to all this, and after a few years in town, damned if it isn’t knitting itself.