We’re all aware of the fact that life can be reduced to a series of what-if scenarios and dissatisfaction. Plenty of people spend their days that way. But those of us who are lucky enough to be influenced and charmed by others and their insatiable encouragement, have 40th birthday parties.
Booze is mandatory. Pizza is never a bad idea. And space to socialize is best advised for everyone’s comfort. While all the logistics were carefully considered and necessary purchases were made well in advance, space turned out to be the unexpected issue.
In the spirit of welcoming everyone—humans and canines—the park was our original destination. The green grass of Washington Square was perfectly suited for the festivities. But then the rain came.
We didn’t know what was in store until the last minute. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until we stepped out on the sidewalk—with bags and backpacks full of party-in-the-park necessities—that we discovered our fate. Watching people rush by with umbrellas in their hands, I cursed each drop as they collected on the windows and hoods of the cars parked along the street.
It was the time to pivot, as folks in the tech industry like to say. So, pivot we did. Actually, to be fair, it was more like a U-turn as we went back into our apartment to prepare our 400-square foot, one bedroom abode for an undetermined number of guests.
As the buzzer began to send electrical signals from the gate to the third floor, a small crowd began to form. Slightly frustrated at first, I was suddenly struck by the realization that the small crowd was comprised of some of my favorite people on earth, the small space was filled with thought-provoking conversation and there was plenty of pizza to go around (there was even a glutton-free option).
Who needs space? Who needs sunshine? San Francisco is supposed to rainy and cold. City life is supposed to force people to overcome small spaces with dirty stairwells and pigeon problems. The whole event started to feel like a bit like a movie sequence. Wine, beer, dogs and adults all cross pollinating, socializing and making the most of a rainy Saturday afternoon in North Beach.
I leaned against the plaster wall and took it all in. As people churned among one another, all I could do was smile. Smile like a dork. Smile like the world is OK. Smile…and crack open the bourbon.
The night is beautiful.
The dog is curled into a ball and cozy. Traffic is calm and the 39 bus is empty as usual. I washed the sheets today and there’s a lovely lady in my nightly nest. I see there’s fog rolling in over the Golden Gate and I consider the possibility that this is all like a movie I saw once.
A movie I probably cursed and called far-fetched. Now the credits roll and I sink into my San Francisco sleep.
A few weeks back I started a new job that’s shrouded in confidentiality agreements and requires a badge to come and go. While there’s some middle-aged appeal to taking on secret-agent status, most of my recent daily adventures are not exactly mine to share.
All proprietary details aside, I will say that there’s nothing like onboarding at a new gig to stir things up. The beauty of being the new guy means there’s no routine to abide by—you’re free reevaluate and reestablish how you do your thing. What exactly does it take to be a good employee? What, if anything, should I be doing for my community as a result of making a living wage? Is there some magical equation that can solve the work-life balance conundrum?
The only problem is that I’m short on revelations and epiphanies. So far, the only conclusion I’ve come up with is to worry less. Somewhere between my ever-growing resume and the endless quest for the perfect place to live, I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that adulthood is a wonderful mess of unpredictable occurrences, coincidence and a responsibility to to those around you to simply be cool. I’m going to give that a try today and see how it goes. You know that old saying? Once the badge is scanned, anything can happen? Here goes.
There’s nothing like spending the holidays in a neighborhood that’s festive year round. Here in San Francisco’s North Beach, multi-colored lights permanently hang above Grant Avenue, the bars and restaurants are usually packed with cheerful patrons and frequently big groups of people go door to door singing—at least until they get home. While it’s not great for good night’s sleep, most days feel like some kind of special occasion.
The other day, however, I encountered a new level of coincidental holiday crossover when I found a gift on the doorstep. Technically the gold bag with its carefully arranged tissue paper was tossed on the sidewalk, but the decorative effort wasn’t wasted on me. I picked it up and nervously looked inside to discover an undamaged glass tray with an artful gold type that simply read CHEERS. Momentarily, I considered my options and decided the tray was coming home with me to be re-gifted just as soon as I could deliver it to my lovely lady on the third floor.
Secret Santa? Drunk elf? Perhaps a small token of appreciation from the universe for enduring the yelping of drunks night after night? While I’ll never know for sure where this sidewalk surprise came from, I’ll always remember the joy of finding this accidental gift.
With that, I say cheers to you and yours. And Merry Christmas. And happy holidays. If you can, take a moment to take in the world around you and watch your step—you never know what treasures might be waiting underfoot.
Our San Francisco apartment is so small a quick shower fogs up all the windows—including the one with a slight view of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise. The “cotton candy sky” (as we’ve started calling it) through the accidental steam filter caught my eye this morning and I thought I’d share.
Looking out over the city, I see that Sylvia’s Bakery didn’t make it. It was just open for business the other day. No surprise, I suppose. There’s only so long you can cover the rent in San Francisco with $5 scones. I hope Sylvia had a plan B.
My buddy’s dad also passed. He was just playing golf a few months ago. I never had a chance to meet him, but from what I hear he was old and wise so I suspect we would’ve gotten along. I hope the friends and family have a chance to celebrate his legacy.
This world twists and turns—so many things come and go each day—but ultimately one has to remember to appreciate the fact that we’re even here at all.
I know. A bit cheesy. But I’ll give it a try if you do. While you’re at it, maybe send a Christmas card or two? You’ll like the way it feels to sign, seal and deliver a thank you message to the people who put up with you all year. Take my word for it.
Speaking of doing the right thing, it’s Friday again. You’d better make it a good one.
The prime real estate formerly known as Sylvia’s.