I had this weird moment walking home last Friday. It was one of those Fridays where I found myself without plans so I decided to treat myself with a good bottle of wine and a new book. I got off my train at 24th street and bought my nice bottle, but it was getting later, around 7:30ish, and the skies were grey and drizzly. For some reason I felt like wearing heals that morning, so I had my black wedges on (shown above) with my new bright pants. This was all well and good for most of the day, but it really was not the best outfit for walking six city blocks in.
So I have my wine and I start walking home, and I have my music, and I’m in this great mood because it’s Friday in the city. And ya, my feet hurt, but I knew that would happen so I’m just laughing it off and going with it. And then it starts raining, like really raining, not just a drizzle. But I have a coat on and it kind of feels nice and refreshing because it’s not a cold evening, just a wet one, so I go with that too.
And I tend to be a bit of a romantic, so walking home in the rain while listening to Billie Holiday (which was on my iPod) makes me feel kind of great. Like, of course, I should be walking home in the rain right now. Of course, Billie Holiday is on and I’m 28 and it’s summer, and I’m in San Francisco and there are people kissing up against that building over there (there really was) and there are drops of rain running down the side of my face and into my eyes, and people eating in that restaurant, watching me as I walk by shakily yet steadily… And isn’t life so beautiful and real? And aren’t these are the moments that make me feel alive? The little, stupid, silly moments of nothing… and everything… that make me feel sublimely happy for no real reason at all?!
(Yes, I took it there. You might as well know, I always take it there.)
But then the rain kept on coming, harder, and the bag I was carrying got wet on the bottom, so I had to cradle it, which isn’t easy, and I was balancing on my shoes that by now (I was only at 26th street and heading to 30th) I was really slipping on because they are opened toed and wet and ridiculous and completely wrong for this city yet alone this weather. And ya, my feet really fucking hurt. I could feel the blisters forming and I seriously considered taking off my shoes and walking home barefoot in the rain. (That would have been romantic wouldn’t it?) But then I smelled that smell that sometimes comes with a city rain… the smell of stale urine made fresh again….and I decided that no, no walking barefoot on urine-coated streets in the rain would not be romantic. So I walked on.
And you can imagine what I looked like at this point. I was wobbling, I was wet, I was wearing my trendy teal pants that were completely wet and stuck to my legs, I was cradling this bag of wine and cheese that was literally falling apart in my hands, I had my work bag over one arm with my books and laptop in it so I was kind of leaning to one side while I walked, my coat was soaked, my hair was too, and I probably looked like the biggest idiot in this city.
And then this guy walked by…
He was wearing brown chucks, a navy-blue sweatshirt with the hood up, baggy jeans with holes in the knees, and carrying a six-pack of PBR tallboys. Suddenly, I was reminded of everything I used to be.
I use to love my hoodies, my baggy jeans with holes in the knees, I lived in my brown chucks–all worn and dirty and absolutely wonderful. And as for the PBR tallboys… Oh man, that was my go-to good time on Fridays nights. I remember being in college and having no money and no credit, looking in my car for quarters, going to the store and buying my six-pack of PBR tallboys for $1.80. $1.80!!! And I paid in change. Ha, and that’s all I needed for a fun night with my friends. And I’d show up at whatever party was going on in my hoodie, sneakers, and my PBR tallboys and have some of the best times of my life laughing, and drinking, and pretty much acting like a great big bum while hanging out in someone’s basement sipping on cheap beer and discussing things like books or rap music or the stupid things we all did last weekend and the stupid things we wanted to do next weekend and when we grew up, and when we graduated and got jobs and lives.
Sigh… life was so much simpler back then.
And for a moment it all came back to me, watching this guy happily swing his beers in the rain, sauntering down the street to whatever night he had ahead of him. And I really wanted to trade places, for just a moment, or at least trade shoes, because by then my feet were absolutely killing me and I had slowed down considerably, and if anyone had wanted to attack me, well now would have been the time, while I was wet and vulnerable, and wishing I had a hoodie, sneakers, and a six pack of PBR tallboys.
But I didn’t have those things. I had my black wedges, teal pants from The Gap, my work laptop , a bottle of Three Valley’s Ridge, some fancy cheese from Whole Foods, and my iPod.
Who had I become? I mean, wow, what a dumb bitch. Haha, and I know it’s bad to say such a thing about yourself, but ya, I thought it, and I maybe even deserved it.
But then the next song came on my iPod and it was Stormy Blues. It was the perfect song to limp home in the rain while feeling sorry for yourself to. And I thought of the particular pleasure, the small magic, of having the exactly right perfect song come on your shuffle. How the fact that you’re listening to it on this corporate, branded, iThing doesn’t really matter when the song is just so fucking great.
And I thought, you know, that guy is really missing out on this. Whatever this is.
Whatever that was.
It’s odd the realizations you can come to in one odd walk home. Life changes and so do we. We wear different pants, we walk in different shoes. We drink different drinks. There’s comfort and beauty to be found in torn jeans and tennis shoes and there’s a certain comfort in wedges in the rain too. Even if that comfort is just the familiar feeling of being a total and complete mess.
So no, I didn’t want to trade places. But I’m not going to lie, if he would have asked me, I gladly would have traded shoes.