Oh, that worked well.
In that mood that you witnessed yesterday, I did indeed pack up the laptop and the border collie and we got into the car and headed down the coast. Sure, we made a couple of errandish stops first, to assuage my Must-Do brain, and then we drove across the Bay Bridge (no traffic!), all the way through town, up past Golden Gate Park out to Ocean Beach, where we headed south on Highway One.
We got to Pacifica, which has always fascinated me. Only ten minutes out of SF proper, it’s a rather blue-collar coastal town, kind of like my own home town. Trailer parks and auto shops gaze at the water in the north end of town. I assumed I’d find a coffee shop with outside seating so I could sip and write with the dog next to me, but I didn’t, actually. So I drove until I saw a man with a dog, and I pulled over and asked him where I should go.
He sent me to the a café several blocks up. It was a cool, foggy morning, though, so even though I wasn’t right on the water, I could still smell and feel the ocean, which was good enough for me.
It was a great little café, with fabulous coffee and AMAZING chocolate croissants, made right on premise.
The nice lady inside showed me where I could sit outside – they’ve made a little seating area in the back parking lot – and I left Clara out there while I went in and ordered.
We heard a crash, and ran out to find Clara had dragged the IRON BENCH she’d been tied to into the middle of the parking lot, taking a table with her, in her attempt to get back to me. Sweet, but oy. We’re still working on the stay command, obviously.
I wrote and wrote. The fog cleared, and the sun came down on me, and I closed my eyes and wrote that way. Sometimes I forget how nice it is to do that. Try it sometime. You’ll fix the typos later, and there will be fewer than you expect.
Then I decided to take Clara to the beach, out to Fort Funston, which is an old military site on the coast just north of San Francisco, now turned dog park. It’s huge and rambling, and full of dunes and cliffs and old gnarled trees and NO POISON OAK so it’s lovely. And I’m so glad I went.
Because I met this gal.
We fell into step right inside the park – her dog is a brute of a two-year old mutt, most used to playing with pit bulls, she said. So when her dog Louis dragged Clara to the ground and kept her there with his teeth, I knew we were going to have fun. That’s Clara’s favorite game, y’see, and she likes to be the chased one, the one pinned to the ground. It looks awful, but she’s good at snapping at the ones who get out of hand, and until then, she’s in HEAVEN.
This gal looked like a forty-five year old metal-head. Long straight hair, remnants of old dye, pink and purple, an old black shirt, black ripped pants, boots. She might have been older, or she might have been twenty years younger – I couldn’t tell. She had a slight German accent, and I learned later she’s only been in the States five years.
She said, after we’d walked for a bit with our dogs, “My name is Fox. Shall we walk together?”
At first, my brain was doing its stupid “make an excuse, I want to be alone” kind of chatter, and then I decided, why not? “Sure,” I said, and she led me down to the beach, which at Fort Funston means DOWN to the beach. You have to practically rappel down this immense old sand dune, dogs tumbling before you, until you reach the bottom, where the beach is as wide as the ocean itself. You can walk from there to the Cliffhouse. Not that you’d want to. But you could.
We walked on, our dogs wrestling frantically in the surf, and I learned that when she moved here, she was a taxi-cab driver in SF for the first four years.
“That must have been something,” I said, fascinated. “Did you ever get robbed?”
“You kidding me? There was never anyone in my cab crazier than the driver. I am always the craziest. Once a guy got in and called me a bitch, said he was going to fuck me up. I hear something in the back, him getting something out of a pocket and I turn around, and he’s holding up a knife. I yell, ‘you crazy? What you gonna do? You gonna cut me? You think? I’m going to KILL you!’ and he gets out and runs away like a little girl. I chased him, going backwards in my car down the street, but I lost him in an alley.”
My mouth hung open.
She said, “That’s nothing. This one time I got a fare of three guys who want to go to a club. When they get in, they’re only going four blocks, and that pisses me off. Not worth it. One guy is stupid and breaks my interior light, rips it off. I tell him he’s gonna pay for it. He calls me a bitch and a whore, and tells me no way. So I hit the gas. I’m going fifty, then sixty up Valencia. I got nothing but green lights. I’m going away from the club, as fast as I can. The other two guys are crying for me to stop, to let them out. I hit a red, and the asshole gets out and runs away. I take the other two to the club, and they apologize, and one gives me $75 for the light.”
“Wow,” I said, “that’s crazy.” (See how interesting I am when you run into me on a beach?)
“And that is not the end! The very next night, my husband picks up a fare in front of a strip club. This guy is going home to Oakland. He starts telling my husband about how he hates this taxi company, about how he had to ride with a crazy bitch the night before who wouldn’t let him out of the car. My husband, he wants to let the guy off in the middle of the bridge, wants to kick his ass. But he just drives him home, pulls up to the front, and then turns around and says to the guy, ‘That bitch was my wife. And now we know where you live.’ The guy almost peed his pants.”
She roared with laughter. I thought she was the coolest thing in pants. We walked for an hour, and she was full of stories, but those were my favorites. We parted as friends, and I drove straight to Imagiknit, not even getting lost a little bit, taking turns by intuition that turned out to be just right. If you know me and driving in the City, this is a small miracle. There was parking in front. I found the yarn I wanted for the sweater class I’ll be giving in spring.
I drove home, craving a bagel, so I called Joni up and made her bring my godson down to the bagel shop in Alameda, and we ate and I joggled the baby.
I sang all the way home to my new favorite song, “By Heart,” by Sylvie Lewis (go give it a listen on iTunes! The whole album is worth buying, but that song is amazing).
I came home and cooked shrimp pasta with garlic, fresh basil, and lemon, with a touch of vermouth. Lala loved it.
I had the best day.
When your body tells you to get up and get out and DO something, do it. Okay?
Oh – and today, when I wrote, it was almost effortless. Not completely, but close to it. Yep. Woot!
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