Saturday, January 14

How to Bring in the New Year

Quietly, spend a slow afternoon in apartment land, otherwise known as San Mateo doing as little as possible to recover from all the previous exertion. I finish the night the way I intended last night- bathing al fresco with a glass of champagne. I look up at the moon and the constellation of Orion and meditate on life, memories of my lost friend and the kindness of my hosts.

My traveling companion Chester gets a perch on my writer’s cap after complaining that he couldn’t see anything as I kept him in my coat pocket with my camera.  He is much happier with the new view.

Monday morning, my last day began with a plea to let me stay but real life beckons. I make breakfast of home fries and scrambled eggs for the gang. An old high school friend shows up as well. Instead of ferrying to Tiburon we decide to attend the “West Side Story” sing a long at the Castro theater. This grand old theater is a reminder of what a movie theater should look like, art deco decor, plush curtains, even an organ. 

The crowd is festive and in the mood for silliness, including me. Having hosted bad movie nights at my home and watched countless episodes of “Mystery Science Theatre” I’m ready with a retort. There are plenty of opportunities. In the balcony scene between Tony and Maria, she asks him to visit her at the dress shop where she works. The audience erupts when Maria commits the best unintentional double entendre with “Tony when you come, use the back door.” This is Castro street after all. At intermission I turn on the gang in mock despair.

“This isn’t going to end well is it? I thought this was a comedy but there’s like drama and singing and shit. This doesn’t end well does it?” Then there is the scene where the detective ( played by the great Simon Oakland) questions Maria who sends Anita off  with a coded message for Tony. 

“They could just speak Spanish.” I remark logically, which gets a big laugh from the row behind me.

We all know how the story ends but irrationally hope that this time they will happily ever after. There is not a dry eye  in the theater when Maria leans down to kiss Tony one last time “Te adoro Anton.”

We trudge up the steep incline of 17th street and the Saturn stairs once more in time to see a spectacular sunset as an exclamation point to a perfect afternoon. I pack my bag reluctantly and after a rushed Skypeing with my brother we go off to  “Mochino”  a fancy Peruvian restaurant. It’s so dark I have to use my tiny flashlight to read the menu. It’s mostly in Spanish but I find something I more or less recognize. I really can’t see my dish when it comes but it’s all very good. Now I should point out I’m not an adventurous eater normally and I’m a total spice wimp but I bravely eat what’s put in front of me and it ranks as one of the top eating experiences I’ve had . Ahi never tasted so fine. 

We end up rushing to the Ferry Building just in time for me to catch the bus to the train station in Emeryville. Hugs to my dear friends and I ‘m off  to the night train north.

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