We are staying in the Tenderloin, at a drop in shelter for the homeless where Kate worked last year. It is as you would imagine a shelter would be, double bolted doors, crackheads and tweakers and a few men and women who are just plain homeless, strolling and sittting and shaking outside the doors, telling stories fragmented by the wind, and the fog, and their memories.
A twenty minute walk away from where we are staying is Broadway, which is a small Moulin Rouge complete with flashing legs and glowing pin-ups. We headed there late last night. Scattered among the promised women are beautiful restaurants and bars, and tucked into Columbus Ave nearby is The Vesuvio bar and City Lights Bookstore, both filled with the beats and their words. Neither place has been ruined by its reputation. By that I mean to say, no one was wearing beret’s and scribbling furiously about how romantic it all was.
The Vesuvio is dim and crowded with wooden tables pushed against wooden fly away windows that overlook it all. It smells as a bar should, and feels like a bar I frequented in Barcelona, tucked into a side street of the red light district, boasting of nothing but alcohol and filled with its own magic every night.
All of it drew me to itself. The architecture, the unapologetic beggars, the lights, the shadows, the new feel of a city that didn’t seem to want to be any other city than itself. And I could feel desperate words climbing through my veins as soon as we entered the city limits, the way they do when I feel at home. I must be at home here, because just like New York, San Fran doesn’t need me. Doesn’t want me or my stories,that it has heard and seen from a thousand others before.
And just like that, I’m in love. I am already thinking about how I’ll get back here again. Where I can find places to nestle into for awhile, and how it will always be easy to leave because I know I can always come back.
The words come on their own here. It’s the money and commitment and other small details that will have to be worked out. For now it’s just a love affair with San Francisco.