Wednesday, April 02, 2008
(6:45 PM) | Brad:
Fichte Be DamnedToday, for the first time in many weeks, I went to the San Francisco Public Library's main branch. After grabbing lunch with my wife and one of her co-workers at an innocuous local chain, where the soup is bland and effortless, but cheap and filling, I made my way down Market Street. I'm always struck at how quickly the surroundings change as you move west of the Financial District. One block beyond the hectic stop & go of the cable cars and the congregated joy of the tourists on the way to or coming from Union Square, awaits the Tenderloin. Despite its reputation and realities, I've never found this area especially threatening; which is not to say I had any confidence that I would leave with my belongings, either through the misdeed of others or my own hedonistic desires.
Upon arriving at the library, a surprisingly graceful modern structure that I've always enjoyed visiting, I realized I desperately needed to use the bathroom. I did so, and then walked to the sink to wash my hands. As I did so, I looked up, fully expecting to find a mirror, whereupon I might make the required adjustments to my appearance, or simply to see a familiar face in this city of strangers. What I did not realize at the time, though, or at least failed to notice, is that there was no mirror. Standing directly opposite me, also washing his hands, was an old, presumably homeless, man. The only feature that stands out, besides his age, is his wizened nose, bent to the left, I can but assume, by the force of a lifetime's violence. We stood staring at one another for a few seconds, with neither malice nor pity, but as though peculiar reflections of one another. Itfelt as though twenty thousand tomorrows had slipped into today without notice or announcement, and did nothing but stare.