when i first moved to the bay area nearly a decade ago, i met a lot of different kinds of people and had a lot of strange experiences with them. it was a good time. one of those experiences i have never written about, but for some reason i recalled it just now on my drive from asheville back to tennessee.
many years ago now i met this woman in san francisco. i remember her face but not her name, which leads me to believe she never told me what it was, since i never ever forget someone’s face and name, no matter how briefly i knew them. she had me meet her at this abandoned pier somewhere near the dogpatch . . . i am certain this place doesn’t exist anymore. the pier was small and derelict and had not been used in a long time. it was locked behind a rusted barbed wire fence. she said, “are you down to climb over it?” it was dusk and there was no one else around. i said: “of course i am.” and so we clambered over, avoiding the barbed wire, and hopped down unscathed onto the concrete below. we walked out onto the rotted pier, which was full of treacherous holes leading to the icy san francisco bay, and got to the end where the wood was still relatively intact. it was cold as hell with all the wind. we sat crosslegged and she took out some wine and food from her bag and we drank and ate together.
she said: “i had to know whether or not you would agree to jump over the fence with me. if you had said no, i would have left.”
that did not sound draconian to me. i knew what she was getting at. it was a sort of personality litmus test. had i chickened out, she would have known i was a certain kind of person, meaning the wrong kind of person (as far as she was concerned). she wanted to hang out with someone who was down to go places you weren’t supposed to go, which of course are the best places to go. and there on the end of the pier we were just two dark shapes and we didn’t know each other at all, but had done this small thing together for the sake of doing anything at all. we wanted to talk to each other, to someone we had never met before, because really that’s the most fun you can ever have. in jumping over the fence to be alone and away from other people, we at least knew we had that in common.
we spoke for a long time . . . it was hours. we only left because of how cold it had become. and once we got back to the other side she tightened her backpack over her shoulders and stood there with arms akimbo. she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and told me good-night, and then walked off into the dark. it was the only time i ever saw her. for some reason it seemed like enough. i guess we both figured that what we had experienced together was all it ever needed to be. i still remember everything we talked about and i’m glad we met, but it’s ok that that was the extent of it. what i got out of it was a little story. i can’t really explain it any better than that.
maybe i just had one of those nights again . . . it had been a while! i don’t think i’ll ever get tired of it. or anyway i hope i don’t. it is such a special thing to gaze through a tiny window into another world that is not yours, and to meet friendly strangers with whom you instantly befriend but know for only a few hours. whenever i tell laura or tracey about these sort of nights, they say something like, “that’s such a ryan story.” well, that’s fine. it’s just too much fun is all. i can’t help it . . . i just dig that sort of thing, you know . . . driving through the night out of some strange town reeking of cheap coffee and a cigarette i bummed from someone at the bar to get back to wherever it is i came from, knowing i’ll probably be sleeping in the back of the car when i get there, all fried and worn down and rattled in that good way. i know it doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just a thing i like to do. and of course i’ll remember all of it, and think about it sometimes, and it becomes a part of the tapestry of my life . . . or whatever (lol)~
anyway. . . .