Walk with a friend

On my way to meet Sarah-Katherine, I walked by the new Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Marina. It's a mammoth structure, an entire city block, housing thousands upon thousands of books spanning the spectrum from G to R — meaning, mainstream only. Emma Goldman? Emma who? Maybe we can special-order it…

Looking in the windows, you don't see books; you see people drinking coffee, sitting in chairs and staring out at you. See, it's not just a giant bookstore that treats books as a commodity no different than Target treats lawn mowers, it's also the Barnes & Noble Cafe!

Gag me with an espresso, please. You'll find me at City Lights.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Walking on, came the hotel where I'd been told to meet Sarah-Katherine, and from the crowd on the sidewalk she emerged like a mist, smiling, walking toward me.

Both of us with open arms, I thought we'd kiss, but she turned sideways and made it into a hug. I'd never say no to a nice hug, but it was also a reminder that she's a friend, not anything more. So noted. I've written some sappy things about her, but I do know what's what and what's not.

♦ ♦ ♦   

We spent the afternoon together, and I hope she had as nice a time as I did. We walked through the Mission, because she wanted to see the slums again. We talked, laughed, held hands, had lunch at a burrito bar, and then we walked around the Embarcadero. Occasionally we kissed, and that's the meaning of life, you know — an occasional kiss.

There've been other women, and there will be other women, but she's the first who's shared my cynicism, anarchism, atheism, and a few other assorted isms. She's easy to talk to and worth listening to, and we've reached the point where we're telling each other stories we've already told each other. Is that a good thing? There's nobody else's reruns I'd rather hear.

♦ ♦ ♦  

When the afternoon was over, we met up with her brother, and the three of us spent the evening together. He's light on conversation, but so am I. It didn't seem like an intrusion having him around, and I hope it didn't seem like an intrusion having me around.

Together the three of us took a #28 to the Golden Gate, and crossed that bridge when we came to it. It's two miles each way, a long walk. Crossing a bridge so far and looking down at the water, the conversation of course turned to suicide.

You're keenly aware that you're stepping where thousands have taken their lasts steps, and you feel the fatal chill on your skin. If it's not on your mind when you get to the bridge, it's on your mind when you hear the eerie sound of foghorns in the distance, and enormous freighters the size of bathtub toys float under your feet.

It was an intellectual conversation, though, not existential. By the time we'd reached the other shore and turned around, we'd become accustomed to the grandeur, and spoke of baseball and flannel underwear, the Civil War, and other things.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Sarah-Katherine didn't come home with me. She's staying at the hotel with her brother, and they're flying home early tomorrow, so we kissed goodbye at the elevator.

With the pills I've been taking, my blood must be about 10% Vitamin E, but without hoodwinking myself, doing without anything more was a relief as much as a disappointment.

Even behind a layer of latex, I am not a casual sex guy. Maybe that's part of the reason I went limp when we were together in July. If it's sex I want, I could buy it for $40 on Geary Avenue. What I want is something more, something  personal, something Sarah-Katherine isn't giving to me or anyone.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Busing and BARTing my way back to Berkeley, feeling a mix of warm satisfaction, odd sadness, and the ever-present loneliness, I fell asleep and slept past my stop. It was the last train of the night, so I had to walk another couple of miles to get home.

Never walked so much in any day of my life, as I walked today and tonight. Maybe eight miles? Maybe more? That's OK, though. It wasn't raining, and it gave me time and room to think.

If Sarah-Katherine gave me the go-ahead, I'd drop my pretense and self-defense and admit that I like her, a lot. For now, though — and c'mon, for forever — she's not looking for that. Certainly not from me.

If she wants me as a friend, I'm a lucky guy. If she wants me as a friend who gets naked with her sometimes, I'm even luckier. If that's all she wants, well, what the lady wants, the lady gets.

A day with Sarah-Katherine was, as always, a really nice day. What else could it be? 

It was kinda like seeing an ex who's still a friend, someone I've had the hots for and still do, someone I've been there, done that, and would happily do again, but not yet, maybe not ever.

Yeah, it was like that.

From Pathetic Life #19
Saturday, Dec. 9, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


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