That last sentence brings up about 1,704 stories to share in the near future.
What brought me to San Francisco in the first place you ask?
Well, it was rather a fluke of sorts, gather 'round for a long answer.
It was 1993 and I was in my second half of school at The Aveda Institute in Mpls for esthiology. It was Waxing Day to get my training hours in, which meant that all I did was wax body parts for the entire day, all day. Yes, you're jealous, and I am blessed. My first client that day, or more importantly, first waxing client EVER, was entire male body wax. That's not really important, just a fun fact to make you uncomfortable. After surviving that sweaty and nerve wracking session, I ended the afternoon by waxing the legs of a gal named Dana. While ripping off a wax strip, Dana asked me
"What do you want to do when you're done with school"?
"Move to San Francisco", I said.
Of course, I had never been to San Francisco for more than a couple of hours of my life in 1989, when I got my nose pierced while visiting my friend Brandy in college.
Dana then said " I work at a spa in San Francisco, here's my card, call me when you're done with school."
Well hot diggety damn, I shall call your ass up, don't you doubt THAT for a second.
School ended just in time for me to go on Dead Tour with a slew of folks I barely knew to sell grilled cheese, over priced hand-made dresses to suburbanites, and be the only one that doesn't smoke pot. I was a responsible and savvy hippie, so I planned my interview in San Francisco while the Grateful Dead was playing a show at Shoreline Amphitheater. I know. None of these words should be in the same sentence.
After a forgettable show, Bryan (boyfriend form PA), Chris (we called him Tough Guy) and another Chris (went by Farmer) and I checked into a hotel for a night so that I could shower up, scrub down and scoop up my freshly washed dreads into an immense ponytail/ bun/ nest. I even brought some "interview" clothes to look as proper as I could to kill my interview.
**I must, for my own selfish reasons, state that I never have, nor ever will wear patchouli. I did rock Jasmine oil, however, so there is that to reflect on or have flashbacks.
I arrived to my interview at the epitome of a CA warehouse one see's in the movies that was 1 block away from an Esprit outlet, I shit you not. How's that for a fucking flashback, huh? I rode up a freight elevator I swear I saw in the movie Quicksilver that proceeded to open up to a sun filled, white washed, flower filled, Aveda smelling place of 1993 coolness.
The owner Ann Marie greeted me with long blonde hair, wearing all black, and a judging smile. Dana gave me a huge hug and the rest of the crew smiled and waved. Apparently I clean up well, and I looked malleable (gullible?), because Ann Marie offered me a job as an esthetician after a short and way too easy of an interview.
An esthetician named DeAnna then came over to introduce herself to me and said
"I am going to India for a few months, you can totally sublet my apartment while I am gone. It's $500 since it's rent controlled, and you can use all my furniture."
FUCK YES, YES AND YES. Just give me sec to run home and pack....
I arrived in San Francisco on October 31st, 1993 during the early evening. There was no internet or cell phones then, I only had a paper map, address of unseen apartment, and phone number. My studio apartment was in Civic Center, right across the street from City Hall, on Van Ness Ave. I was one block away from the Opera House, lived above a cafe, and had a cool accordion door elevator. I was living in a Big City movie, and I never felt more alive or terrified in my entire life.
DeAnna greeted us with the news that River Phoenix had just passed away in L.A. and that she was shocked and saddened by the news, but to make ourselves at home while she packed. Bryan and I had tickets to see George Clinton and P Funk in Berkeley that night and had to meet some friends of his ASAP. Pretty sure Bryan and DeAnna smoked a bowl, and then Bryan and I jumped back in to my little 2 door Montero to haul ass over the Bay Bridge to meet his friends over in Rockridge.
I vividly remember taking a certain curve at the end of that bridge where you feel like you are on top of the world looking across mountains, water and twinkling lights in a 360 degree view. The feeling of energy, excitement and possibility is such a rush, that it still makes me feel that exact way, each and every time I take that bridge. It always feels like anything is possible, that something was on the verge of happening, and usually something did.
Bryan and I walked into the top floor of a cool Berkeley house duplex to be greeted by a petite girl with long blonde hair, wearing an orange, patterned, disco halter/jumper and roller skates.
Holy fuck. I am in California deeeeeep.
"Happy Halloween, welcome to CA", said Disco Barbie, "Come on in!"
This stony, perma grinned NYC transplant named Lauren will soon become one of my closest friends and roommates for the next few years ....she is also a brunette, she was wearing a wig.
Lauren introduced me to her roommate Jen, and I cannot remember her costume, but it was probably scant because her normal attire generally was revealing, but always in a cool and intimidating way. She would later be called Anatomically Perfect Jen by me, or SWOBO Jen by messenger boys later in my stories. I also saw Brad, who Bryan knew from Reading PA, whom I had met briefly at a show in MN. Brad managed a well known hippie jam band from VT and would give us tickets if we were attending shows. Brad lived in CA with Lauren and Jen when the band he worked for was not on tour and brought the drummer of the band with him for the Halloween P Funk show. Everyone was feeling fine and dandy and I was in total fucking awe of the people I was surrounded by during my first hours LIVING in CA.
That evening, I was consumed by dancing my ass off, feeling funk in my chest, and sweating my soul dry to George Clinton for 4 fucking hours. No exaggeration. I laughed so hard, felt so pure and so right that night that I will never, ever forget that feeling. Never, ever, ever. NO fear, doubt or second thought, just LIVING OPEN.
Feelings that pure seem hard to come by the older we get. We let clouds in, noise in, and a little bit of fear settles in too. We tend to ignore our truths, listening to the outside static, and sometimes lose our willingness to learn or be open to possibilities. I would never re-live any of my past, but I would love to re-kindle that spark of seeing potential in every encounter brought my way.
NO idea what in the hell happened the rest of the Halloween evening, at all.
I DO know that night was the perfect beginning of the next chapter of my cuckoo life, and with out a doubt, set the standard for the upcoming years and stories to come....