Last September with Scott
San Francisco, California
Today, I am going to the City, San Francisco. We call it The City. I was born and raised there. I haven\’t been to the City since Scott and I stayed three nights back in September at a small motel in the Richmond District. COVID restrictions were extremely strict back then. I only left the motel room once to walk around the neighborhood. The rest of the time, we ordered Doordash for food delivery, organized our camping gear and backpacks and watched movies. I loved being in the City, hearing the buses go by and feeling close to home. It was strange though, not being able to go out to eat or do anything really except stay holed up in our room. Scott always had a project to work on if we didn\’t have anything else going on. He loved playing around with his different electronic devices. This last trip to the City, I remember he spent most of his free time at the desk in the corner going through his stuff, organizing his music files on his laptop, taking a break to eat and watch movies with me.
This trip, I will be going to an area of the City, my parents used to take us out to dinner when we were kids. I remember one weekend night eating at a Mexican Restaurant, all of us sitting close up to a round table at the front window. The head lights from the cars and the movie theater across the street lit up the street puddles in blues and greens as the dark storm hit the pavement in a rapid fire of rain pouring down from the night sky. Through the thunder and sheets of water, I watched a man covering his head with a jacket run across the street heading towards our window. Soon, the bells on the door jingled and the older man with graying hair, neatly dressed entered the neighborhood restaurant. My dad recognized him right away, greeting his friend, he invited him over to share dinner with us. Our table was covered with plates of cheese enchiladas, rice and beans, chips and red salsa, and big fat stuffed burritos filled with green chiles, avocado, shredded beef, cheese and sour cream. My parents always ordered large plates of food, anything we wanted on the menu covered the table.
My dad\’s friend pulled out a comfortable castle style chair, and joined us. Excited, he started to tell us about the movie he had just seen at the theater across the street. Fascinated, I listened to him, taking in every word, words I had never heard before. Conspiracy, cover-up, covert operations, deep throat. I sensed this movie was something big, revealing a hidden world of of adults who committed dark deeds like the scary movies I was drawn too, but different. This was real life, I could tell by the way my parents were enraptured and animated discussing back and forth the movie with my dad\’s friend from work.
When I was older, I would watch this movie over and over again, at least a couple dozen of times, with rapt attention. In 1976, I was too young to understand what All the President\’s Men was about. I was barely eleven years old. For me, this movie is a time machine taking me back to my childhood in the City, eating dinner out with family, listening to adults discuss things I couldn\’t fully understand, but tried so hard to.
Later today, I am going to walk this same neighborhood. I am sure the Mexican Restaurant is gone, and probably the movie theater too.
I can feel the ghosts in the City when I visit.
My grandparents, both sets gone, Aunts and Uncles gone, cousins gone, friends gone. Some dead, crossed over. Others alive, all moved away. I don\’t think I have one relative or friend living in the City now.
This afternoon, I will be excited to walk the streets to see how it feels, what I may find in a City that no longer feels like home.
Today, I will be a ghost visiting her past as well.