Sunday, August 1, 2010

Declaring a truce

Shift #70

SUNDAY, AUGUST 29 -- 10th/Folsom to Park 55 Hotel -- $5.80

and retreated out toward Ocean Beach, where I have -- several times now -- spotted it lurking like a cruising shark.

Downtown, a blessed cerulean blueness has been holding steady overhead for several hours already. We’ve suffered through recent weeks during which there were days (many of them, often consecutive) when we didn’t even once see the sun -- but now it’s shown up each day for a solid week.

Still, I have a foreboding that we’re pressing our luck, that if we don’t keep our attention focused on this nice turn in the weather, it will be yanked away again. I sense myself developing a ray-by-ray appreciation for sunshine. I swear I will never again take for granted a single sunny day.

A GUY WHO GREW UP IN BETHESDA, MARYLAND, and who now lives in New York City, is on his way to the airport: “For the past five years, I’ve been visiting some friends who moved out here, and I keep finding myself thinking, ‘Hey, I could live here.’”

Me: “Careful! I’ve heard that story a thousand times from my backseat -- and it’s pretty much my own story, too. You visit San Francisco one time too often -- and sometimes once is all it takes -- and it might just reach out and grab you. One visit too many, and you find yourself thinking, ‘Hey, I could do this!’ Watch out -- it’s a slippery slope.”

He: “Why do you like it here so much?”

Me: “There are so many reasons, but I think behind all of them is the fact that the place is just so darn beautiful.” We’re cruising through the city on the freeway at fifty miles an hour, curling between graceful green hills dotted with gingerbread houses. In the distance off to our left we can see the blue waters of the Bay, and then more green hills, and, peeking above them, the dorsal-fin peak of Mt. Diablo, four thousand feet high and thirty miles away. “You know how, when you see a really gorgeous man or woman, someone with movie star looks, you just can’t take your eyes off of them?”

He: “Sure.”

Me: “Well, San Francisco is like that for me. I’ve been driving this taxi for twenty-five years, and still, every single day, there is always some view that just sucks the breath right out of me.”

BY MID-AFTERNOON I still haven’t given away a ride. The city is surprisingly quiet, given that we’re right smack in the heart of tourist season. But the airport is hot -- thousands of people are arriving for a big VM Ware convention -- and as I leave downtown and head back to the airport I tell myself that if someone flags me, no matter where they’re going, they’ll be my free ride for today.

On Tenth Street, just two blocks from the freeway onramp, two women step from a row of parked cars and wave to me. One is from Denver, one is from Dover, Delaware. Both arrived this morning for the VM Ware show, and both are happy to be out of the heat in their respective towns, happy to be enjoying cool, perfect San Francisco.

“It must be nice to live here,” one of them says to me.

“Absolutely great,” I say. Fog? What fog? I’ve declared a truce…

They talk shop between themselves during their seven-block ride to the Parc 55 hotel. At the curb, I tell them about the unusual thing I do each day. They love it. They thank me profusely. As I drive off, I see them in my sideview mirror, standing on the sidewalk, smiling and waving good-bye…under blue skies…half a block from the Powell Street cable car turnaround…with moist, pure air from the Bay licking their skin… And also licking mine...

And that’s August. It’s a wrap. Put that one in the can. Locals often refer to September and October are as “our real summer.” And I say, Bring ’em on.


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