Saturday, May 19, 2007
We took the N-Judah train to Ocean Beach today, as we usually do. When the train's traveling aboveground, I always love looking at the buildings and imagining living in them. San Francisco has real architecture almost everywhere, whereas it's a rarity in Reno.
Today, I found myself idly wishing that I'd see a cat in a window. And then I did: a black cat who reminded me of Balthazar (I couldn't find a picture of a black cat in a window, so I used this one instead).
That was pleasant and a little startling, but not terribly odd: after all, lots of people have cats, and cats like windows.
A little while later, I was walking along the beach with Gary, collecting rocks. I love rocks, and always have: when I was a kid, my family always said that when we went to the beach, only my back got tan, because I was always looking down at my feet, scanning for rocks. This is the only thing I don't like about Maui, or at least about the beaches we've gone to there: they're too smooth. No rocks!
Good beaches, in my book, are rocky beaches. Ocean Beach has wonderful rocks, along with lots of sand dollars. The last time I was there, this past July, I found a rock with intriguing quartz veins that looked sort of like a cross, and today, I idly wished to find another rock with a cross on it.
And then I did.
You won't find a much clearer cross than that! It's much more distinct than the cross on the rock I found last year. Mind you, there are lots of cross-like (cross-ish?) rocks on Ocean Beach; I found two others right after this one, although this was the first and clearest. So again, as with the cat in the window, I wasn't too surprised, although I was very pleased.
A few hours later, we showed up for my Borderlands reading. About ten chairs were set up, which showed me that they expected a small crowd: that was my estimate, too. We got there about an hour early, so of course no one was there to hear me yet. I bought some books, and we had a very pleasant conversation with the owner, Alan, who's a fascinating guy, and then Jacob and Rina from Tachyon showed up and I introduced them to Gary, and we all stood around schmoozing for a while.
Alan had told me that the 5:00 reading would probably really start at 5:10, on "San Francisco time." At 5:05, no one had come. I said to Jacob and Rina, "So if nobody shows up, can we just go out to dinner?" But I love reading, and I really wanted to read. Jacob told me that if nobody showed up, I could say all kinds of things about the reading on my blog. An audience of thousands! Celebrity listeners! Wild party tricks! I'm kinda too honest for that, though.
At 5:15, we were still schmoozing, and no one was there, and I found myself wishing, "Please, let just one person come. Just one. Then I can read a story."
At 5:20, a voice from the front of the store said, "Is the reading over already?" It was a homeless man Alan knows pretty well, someone who brings in used books hoping that the store will buy them.
"It hasn't started!" I told him. "You're my audience! Thank you for coming!" Alan didn't want to buy the books the man had with him today, so he asked if anyone could give him a dollar to buy two chicken wings for dinner. I happily gave him a dollar, and he settled into his chair, and Alan and Jacob and Rina and Gary settled into theirs, and I read to my tiny but attentive audience.
I read "Beautiful Stuff," because Alan likes zombie stories. The homeless man seemed to be enthralled: he was leaning forward with his eyes fixed on me, and once or twice I heard him murmur something in response to the story.
When I'd finished reading, he came up and we chatted. He said, "This is my first reading. I loved it. Thank you." He kissed my hand and said, "You're a lovely lady." He told me about having a photographic memory and how annoying that can be, and he told me he'd been in Vietnam. (Those of you who've read "Beautiful Stuff" know that it's a very unsubtle anti-war story, so I'm grateful that he responded so well to it.)
Gary told me later, "I was proud of you for doing a reading just for that one guy," but I was grateful to the one guy for giving me an excuse to read. And I enjoyed talking to him: it felt like talking to homeless patients at the hospital, which is so often my favorite part of any given shift.
And after three answered wishes, I no longer believed that any of it had been coincidence. The universe was very generous to me today. Thank you, universe.