It’s my favorite piece of street art yet. The silhouette of a girl jumping, words triangulated around her, in the shape of a caution sign. It’s the sort of thing that you might only sometimes stop and look at. But then, if you look at it, it makes you wonder.
My waking day starts on Piedmont Avenue. Everyone has made it onto the streets long before me. They are already out and feeling special. Dressed in red, carrying hearts and tinsel colored balloons. Shopping for flowers, cards, teddy bears, candy.
Oh yeah, it’s Valentines’s Day. Not like I’ve forgotten. Not with all the hooplah going on. It’s just that I have more important things to care about, like our anniversary. It’s on the 14th – March or June – somewhere in there, I forget, but it doesn’t matter because we try to make it a monthly thing. We told ourselves at one point that we owed it to one another to make the effort, to spend some time together and contemplate our worth. Sometimes we forget the 14th, but sometimes we remember it too.
Today, I venture out, wearing all white. Like an angel. Or a bride. Or someone dead in the Orient. The closest depiction is actually “Nurse who is on break and thus has her red sneakers on”.
The ride on BART is a solitary one. I have a book of Alice Munro stories to keep me company. The story I’m reading involves a suicide. I’m on page 70 when the train arrives at 24th street station. I’ll have to wait to find out what the story is about. I doubt it’s about suicide, it being a story written by Alice Munro.
It’s blustery out, above ground. I exit through the turnstile and can hear the wind above me, flapping trees, flapping vehicles and people. The sky appears just as blue as it did across the bay, but the clouds here are bare, their husks trailing, hanging onto nothing.
The day is vapid and beautiful. Not like James Blunt’s song, that thing that T’s always crooning. It makes me wonder why am I going out with this guy, this dude who loves romantic pop. Golly gumbucks lorrrallmighty, just make it stop! Hey... that rhymed.
At York Street there’s a creamery, and I decide I want a malt and some fries. I like the little round red stools at the counter, and the little booths with their tall wooden backs lined against the wall, and I like that I no longer have to keep pulling back my hair that was whipping around my face when I was walking up 24th.
It’s a pleasant wait, and I make sure to leave a tip before I exit with my foodies. A super cold coffee malted shake teeters in my left hand, a metal tin of precociously hot fries in my right. These extreme temperatures mess with me; even my asbestos fingers can’t handle it. I hip check the door as I leave the shop and make my way back onto the street, secretly entertained by the thermometrics of my lunch.
The rest of the way to studio is startlingly bright. I walk on the sunny side of the street, squinting. My nose runs in a pleasant girlish way, and I imagine myself having a red nose like those painted in the Barron Story school. Is a red nose ever really pretty? Would this make a good anniversary gift ? I think about this.
Now I am less than a block from my studio, and I see it. Painted on the sidewalk is a familiar stencil, a bit of black sprayed graffiti that I have been missing for a long, long time. It's been well over 3 years since I’ve moved from Wisconsin Street, where I first saw it, at the top of a run of concrete steps, leading down from my apartment, down the hill, down into the Mission district. I thought I'd never see it again, having moved from San Francisco over to the East Bay. But as I said before it's here. Now, it’s here again, by pure coincidence, in my path, as I walk with a light heart to my job, my livelihood, my joy.