When time slows down on Saturday mornings, we set out after a cup of coffee, after we've watered the plants, fed the dog, and done enough little things to free ourselves from the small anxieties that can fill the day. We step out of our green hobbit house, dressed in layers for a San Francisco summer day, with just the thought that we'll walk on whatever street beckons, although we find that the hilly ones don't beckon very often.
We form a posse of three, the one with the biggest nose in the middle. In a row, we plow down the street, slowing down whenever anything catches our eyes. A holistic center beckoning a new way to live, a raw food eaterie boasting a new way to eat, a tattoo parlor promising a new body, a gelato stand as an attraction in and of itself. On Valencia, we pass a guy clad in black with black disc earrings as large as quarters inserted into his enlarged earlobes. A man with Arnold muscles saunters down the street in a hot pink spaghetti dress. Straights, gays, young and old, yuppies, hippies, liberals, and even more liberal liberals sprinkle the streets, taking in the morning, talking in cacophony.
We talk about nothing and everything, the Marxist bookstore, the skeletons, bird wings, and flesh eating plants at Paxton Gates, the Superman mannequin at the thrift store, the row of bongs at the tobacco shop. Sometimes, we don't talk. We walk, holding each other's hands, noticing the granny waiting patiently on the corner with a pyramid of churros on a tray propped in a pushcart, the lush bougainvilleas crowning out of benches on a street strewn with broken glass, crumpled paper bags, and half eaten burritos, a little girl in a strawberry dress waddling toward Bombay Ice Creamery. Sometimes, we just sniff at the smell of fried dough wafting out of the Chinese Food Donut Shop, a pairing we still wonder about.
Like gardeners tending to their garden, we probe every inch, corner, and curb of this city. We want to see what's growing here, what's growing there. But it's the overgrown weeds that delight us, a poppy sprouting from the hidden crack, a dandelion that casts a shadow on the vacant lot. What is it that grows when you give it a little air, some sunlight, and a patch in the corner? What flies over and germinates where you least expect it?
We roam this city, our city. It is a place built by man's prescription but kissed by god's touch, where holiness resides in a luscious strawberry, the palpable fog, the guy dancing down the street on his rollerblades. We walk, not as much to leave an imprint as to step where others have stepped before. We know we belong because no one told us otherwise.