I pulled the borrowed Lexus I was driving to a metered parking spot in The Embarcadero. Grateful to get parking within ten blocks of my destination, I grab a handful of change and lock the doors. I go to slip the coins in the meter- noting my better-than-usual parallel parking, a skill taught to me by a once-close friend.
It’s interesting how friends slip in and out of our lives. Yet with the fortune of grace, god always places the people we need in our lives precisely when we need them. It astounds me how many times I have lost friends due to this or that – and there have always been people there for me.
I note a credit card slot on the meter. Grateful for the incredible forward movement out technology has made, I completed my transaction, setting my iPhone alarm for 50 minutes to ensure I made it back to the car on time.
As I walk under the Bay Bridge towards the Ferry Building, I intentionally inhale the air. Oh, the San Francisco air. I feel the calm urgency pulsing through my veins, I see runners, couples, individuals in headphones. I feel holiday spirit, I feel calm, I feel the broken need of all hose around me. I see people searching for something. Perhaps searching for something they know, perhaps searching for something they don’t know.
Hundreds of thousands of people occupying a city. The people give the city a heartbeat. The cacophony of sight, of sound, of feeling rises and falls, pulsing with every building, with every noise ,with every passerby. All at once there is loneliness, there is solitude, there is togetherness.
I pass art installations ranging from a bow and arrow to a spaceship. I ponder the bow and arrow, considering the implication of Cupid shooting his arrow into the earth. I wonder when the mythical creature will shoot his arrow into my heart. A spaceship fills my head with hope that popular culture can again latch on to this idea of the stars.
The Ferry Building evokes a desire to step back in time. I guess this desire stems from reading a classmates writing in my novel-writing seminar Fall 2010. My classmate wrote a historical fiction – a San Francisco before the San Francisco of today. A time when the hope and youthfulness of the west coast was just being born.
As I walk through the Embarcadero market, I see a t-shirt with an eye, a heart and the Golden Gate Bridge spelling SF. I resist the temptation to buy it, reminding myself that I am on a budget and that budget is limited.
I sit in a row of round tables by the Embarcdero ice skating rink. Now completely still, the chill of the air begins to bite through my college hoodie. I glance around for a coffee shop. There’s none obvious in sight.
The energy of the cities heartbeat slows to a dull thub-thub in this place. Almost completely protected from hustle and bustle just a few feet away, on the street. And the cold is not the only thing I feel nibbling at the edges. Loneliness starts to break its way into my mind and heart. I text few friends to ward it off. Loneliness not for the lack of people around me, but because while I had played this out a million times in my head through the semester, none of these scenarios involved me being solitary in this moment.
I walk along the storefront, looking for some food to satiate the rumble in my stomach. None found. I begin the walk back to my car.
Dark clouds have passed overhead. Dark, low hanging clouds that bring slow drops of rain as the sun disappears beyond the horizon. The streets slowly get slick, as my inner discordance remains unresolved.
I get in my car and uneventfully drive out of the bright dark city, a city I hope to return to, a city I desire to have adventures in. A city of sorrow, a city of hope.