When we last left off, I was having an anxiety attack and the Universe was sending all kinds of great people to bail me out. It made hyper aware of just how often San Francisco seems to deliver exactly what I need, at all times.
Hours later, I was out with my friend B, who is certainly one of those people who has graciously contributed to my survival. I met B. on Bart when I first moved to SF. I was reading Mother Jones and she leaned over and asked me what my favorite section of the Economist was. I explained that I wasn’t reading the Economist, although I probably should be, and a conversation ensued. We both got off at the same stop, traded information and have been friends since. Miraculously, unlike most of the other people who’ve gotten my number on street corners, she is energetic, tolerant, wise and inspiring — and always seems to know the right thing to say. For example, “sometimes all the signs are just pointing to the fact that it’s a square peg, round hole situation. You can’t fight who you are.”
At the bar, we started chatting with this guy who was on a break between Navy stations and was taking a cross country road trip by himself. I think he summed SF best when he said, “I have been here for 10 hours and I have met 20 people who wanted to help me–really, they had no motivation–their only intention was to help me have a successful night.”
He also had some interesting things about the Navy. “It’s really structured. And I’m just not a structured person. But I find ways to get around it.”
“So, it doesn’t bother you to fight against who you really are all day at work?”
“No, I mean, I find ways to get around it. Like, you’re not allowed to argue with a superior–ever–when they talk to you. But you can write them a one page paper later and explain why your point is right. And if you can make a logical argument, they’ll change their mind.”
“And….it doesn’t bother you to pretend to be someone else while you’re there?”
“No. I’m two different people–one at work, one outside of work. They tell you that once you become an officer in the Navy, you’re always an officer in the Navy. That’s not true. I’m only an officer when I’m at work.”
Ultimately, it turned out that he was 23 which basically means he’s completely idealistic and has no idea how life works. But a fresh perspective never hurts.
After he moved on, I was totally ready to go home because it was past 11 o’clock and now that I’m an old woman, socializing on Friday nights has become a physical impossibility. All I could think was a) “I don’t want to talk to any more boys” and b) “I could desperately use a back rub right now.” However, B. had a her eyes on a cute guy with a beard, and I would have been thoroughly remiss in my duties as friend if I didn’t stick around to play wing woman and entertain his friend with the moustache.
It turned out he was from Madrid so I vacillated between pretending that I could understand what he was saying and agreeing that Spain was an awesome country. I was leaning over the bar table (see above, re: exhaustion, back rub) when I felt a hand rubbing my shoulder and then gliding down my back. At first I thought it was a perhaps too-familiar gesture of support from B., but I was willing to go with it until I looked over and saw that it wasn’t her.
Maybe I have a boyfriend I don’t know about, I thought. I turned around to the other side and a girl drew away from me, giggled and stepped back towards her friends. I stared at them, waiting for them to tell me that they were so sorry but they had mistaken me for someone they knew. But they didn’t.
Finally one of them said, “Emily just likes touching people.”
“Emily was just saying wouldn’t it be funny if she was just going around the bar touching people so…yeah.”
I started to get really annoyed and freaked out and prepared to tell them how absolutely f*cking absurd they were when I had a better idea. “Well, I mean, if you want to give me a back rub, I really have no problem with that.”
“Seriously?” Emily leaned forward and then hesitated.
So I turned away from the Spanish guy, and gave my attention to Emily. It didn’t dawn on me until a bit later that I’d gotten my wish: not to have to talk to boys, and to get a back rub. The Universe is obviously hanging on my every word, possibly in a kind of creepy way.
Thinking it over later, I decided that maybe the Rolling Stones were wrong. Maybe you can always get what you want.
I remembered that before I left New York I saw a professional Tarot card reader, and she told me I had been raised to believe that disappointment was inevitable, and this expectation of disappointment was the thing keeping me from moving forward in my life. At the time I was frantically trying to choose between schools, jobs and cities and she told me. “you need to go San Francisco to break from your past and get rid of that belief.”
So I guess here I am, in the unfamiliar position of having my needs met on a daily basis, slowly but surely finding the ammunition I need to blow up old conceptions.
Universe, if you’re listening, I’d like a longer back rub next time.