Day 7 of 21
We are a couple of cool travel partners.
I find pleasure in watching strangers through their windows. Here in the city apartments are crammed so close together that our most intimate behaviors are exposed to the world if we choose not (or forget) to close the blinds. Personal behaviors, the kind you don’t always display to the public, are some of the most interesting to witness; the silly butt-scratch, reading the newspaper with morning coffee, and of course, sex. The other morning two people were leaning out their window enjoying sunlit love in the apartment across the way, stroking hair, kissing lips, foreheads, and necks, rubbing each others’ eyes, massaging, and each holding the other in sweet embrace. Their bed appeared to be arranged against the window, and by laying their pillow on the windowsill, and moving their heads out into open air, the sunlight could warm their faces. I doubt they knew we were watching and I was nervous they would take their romances inside upon seeing us, but I could not get myself to turn away. The couple was completely absorbed in the moment. It was probably one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed.
I am growing accustomed to the differences between a real city and Logan, and some of them I might even prefer. Everything, and everyone, is in your face. A small grocer just around the corner, the hum of activity, and great recycling program are just a few of my preferences. I could spend entire weekends walking down streets and riding public buses just to hear the raspy voices of drunk, old women (“Where’s my sunshine? I want my god damned sunshine.”), the chatter of kids running home from school, and the incoherent mutterings of people so high they don’t even realize they’re talking. I felt more engaged on the streets of San Francisco than I ever have in Logan; for example, there was an old man sitting against a postal drop-box with two hand-held bunches of green tree bows hiding himself from the general sidewalk crowd, and as people walked on down the street he would jump up and scare them. He would laugh, they would laugh, I would laugh, and passersby and other loiterers would laugh. It was a jolly good experience.
In Chinatown an elderly man stood atop crates preaching anti-Bush sensationalism.
His posters suggested we abolish our government and look for leaders more in tune with God and the needs of the people.
His presentation was very far from funny, maybe even a bit depressing if you think about the numbers of Iraqi dead since the invasion, unfortunately very few took the time to listen and instead assumed he was just another street corner performer, nodding and smiling as they passed him by. “Happy, happy, happy. Everybody wonderful. You have nice mommy and daddy. Wonderful, nice mommy. Everybody wonderful. Happy, happy, happy.” His words and sarcastic wave had a biting sting, and once those happy pedestrians understood they turned back for a better glance mid-way through the crosswalk.
Having arrived in Tucson I am now well-rested (slept from 4:30 am - 1:30 pm). Amtrak stuck us on a bus from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, and while it was better than a greyhound, it definitely wasn't luxury. A 6:30 am arrival for transfer to train at Santa Barbara made us witnesses to a beautiful sunrise over the ocean.
The train ride from LA to Tucson was wonderful! The seats on the train reclined, had leg rests, foot rests, curtained windows, etc, plus we had dining AND lounge cars! I had no idea travel could be so luxurious at an affordable price. The amenities make train travel far preferable over bus, and if you're not in a hurry it's much better than plane. We struck up conversations with a couple alternative-lifestyle supporting late twenty-somethings and heard about their composting toilet in downtown Tucson, and listened to the guitar pickin' of a young folk musician we call Johnathan. The lounge car turned into a party car for the 3 described above, myself, Britney and a middle-aged has-been sportswriter from Texas. Spending 28 hours en route to our destination might seem uncomfortable, and at times it was, but a bit of sadness was present as I stepped off the train knowing I may never see those people again. Getting to know the life stories of strangers is inspiring; I could hear the exhaustion in the young black woman's voice as she told us of struggling to care for her 86 year old grandmother (a feisty woman with whom we shared transportation) for a year and 5 months, and of her need for a break from it all.
We are now staying with Brit's generous aunt and uncle in Tucson. Her uncle is insanely funny, and they've been extremely generous. The guest house is ours for the stay, we've done laundry, and they're taking us out and about tomorrow -- the desert museum is on the top of our list.
PS. I love the size of the cacti here! My measly cactus I tried to grow had nothin' on the ones outside our windows here.