Posted by: normanlgreen | March 4, 2012

Dream, March 4, 2012 tourist adrift in San Francisco.

Dream, home, 7:08 am

Sherwin, Keats and I take a family vacation to San Francisco. We wait for a bus. There is confusion about where we are to go in order to meet up with people who my wife knows. My father is also somewhere in the city, so there are conflicting priorities. While the bus waits at the curb, I step out and dash into a candy shop to buy some sweets and to ask advice.

The clerk offers me a cut price on some tiny super-hot gummy mints – the package has been damaged. Before I leave the shop, I cross to a group of young people who wear dreadlocks and sit at a booth tucked under corner windows that offer views in 2 direction. There is an old movie house marquee visible to the North. I ask the people what they would not want to miss if they were visiting San Francisco. They have no suggestions. I tell them that I like old theatres. Do they have any favorites? They only recommend places with which I am familiar, but I thank them and leave.

I step back onto the bus, but my family has gone. I ask the driver if they left. He tells me that they were angry when they got off, but that he will alter his route so we can track them down. The driver is a small African-American man in his early sixties. He has a set countenance of cautious indifference, yet he will go out of his way to help me.

He takes a sharp u-turn across traffic, drives North for a block then turns left at a corner. The sun is blinding as he turns West. All of the buildings in this section of town are under construction in white concrete. The bus gets stuck in a shortened street that is blocked by construction work.

I abandon my helpful driver to his problems and set out on foot, back in the direction of the corner where I last saw my family. A woman comes down from a two-story walk-up and stops me. She declares that earlier she had intended to wish me a happy birthday, but had failed. She insists that I come up to her room. I ask if I can use her phone to reach Sherwin.

By room, she means literally that – a one room apartment with one window set high in the west wall – not great light, at is opens onto a narrow space between this and the next building. There is a single bed tucked into the corner and an open closet at its foot– dresses on hangers stick out into the room. The woman has a faint Midlands accent and an easy, confident way. She stands a few inches taller than I do and out-weighs me by fifty pounds. I cannot bring myself to tell her that I have no idea who she is, despite the birthday greeting. She hands me her cell phone, but it has so many rules to use it, that I cannot get through. I dial, using her land line – though there will be long distance charges to call a tourist’s cell phone. I ring through to Sherwin’s voice mail – the message has been replaced with one to suggest that she has run out of patience for me. I consider finding a room the size of my new friend’s digs, wonder at the cost and how I could earn a living in this city.


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