So, San Francisco the weekend before last.
Hermes called me at 11 AM on that Friday and said that he was done early at school. So, I called the airlines and found us an earlier flight (than the 6 PM we were scheduled on) and we got on stand-by on that one, which worked out great because that meant we had time to get to the B&B on the subway, get settled in, and still go out to dinner and hang in the hot tub before tucking in.
I had sufficiently led Hermes astray and he had figured we were going to New York. 🙂 So, when I arrived at his house and handed him a map of SF and a list of gallery events there for the weekend, he was surprised. The B&B was a charming, old (1870) Victorian mansion. The fires after the 1906 earthquake only came down to about 18th Street and we were between 20th and 21st in the Mission, so the building had been spared. It had all the cool features of a very old house, like 13 foot ceilings, decorative cornices, double staircases, and pocket doors. It had a peaceful, little English garden and a gazebo’d wooden hot tub out back, a parlor with a piano and an endless carafe of sherry, and a roof top deck (from which I got some great nighttime picks of the city which I’ll post later), and a friendly host who would not let us up to our rooms until he gave us the grand tour of his memorabilia, and an aptly named “Marshmellow” Corgi mascot who looked like he hadn’t waddled his way past the first floor in years. That night, we ate dinner at a little Italian place nearby (and when I say little I mean it had not even 10 tables in a cramped storefront) and then we tottered down the street to a cafe where people were spilling out onto the street to listen to some live jazz. Lots of men in pork pie hats. I’ve decided Hermes needs a pork pie hat. Pork pie hats ‘r’ cool.
Saturday–unfortunate timing–my hormones kicked in. Full on. I had teh cramps something awful but I was determined not to let it ruin my day. We took the BART up to SFMOMA and wandered through its impressive collection of things that I had only ever seen in photos before. Hermes went nuts in the gift shop. (They had very cool stuff. I’d happily redecorate my home with the SFMOMA gift shop array.) Then it was off to find lunch and hit some galleries. We planned to go to the huge Meyerovich Gallery but it looked from the outside to be a bit on the snooty side and so we opted for lunch and people watching instead. Then we went to the John Berggruen gallery (where we got a private showing of Squeak Carnwath‘s paintings).
She is one of Hermes’ favorite artists and so I had written her an email on Hermes’ birthday asking if we could meet her when we were in town and see her studio. She was nice enough to write back and, although she denied my request, she asked me to send her birthday greetings on to Hermes (which I did–imagine how flabbergasted he was to get a personalized birthday greeting from a famous artist!) and suggested we go by the gallery that has some of her works. The gallery people were superbly friendly and helpful and gave us all of the time we wanted to sit with the paintings and really explore them and talk to us about the work and the artist.
After that, we stopped into another gallery where they had a Deborah Butterfield show up. We were actually looking for a different show that–turns out–wasn’t open yet. So, we ogled the driftwood/metal horses and then our eyes fell out of our heads when we saw that the horses were for sale … for $1 million each. Yes, that’s right. And–get this–most of them were already sold. Clearly, there is a whole other echelon of society out there who have money to spend in ways that are beyond my ability to even imagine.
We had had our fill of the Union Square haute couture and so we hit the more edgy, afforable art gallery nearby where we recharged on their mod couches. Afterwards, Hermes indulged me in a little second hand store clothing shopping, and then we headed home for a pre-evening dip in the hot tub.
We lingered a little too long in the tub and then had to rush to get all dolled up for the evening affair. With Hermes in his complimentary patterned shirt and tie, suspenders, and decorative hanky (and of course coat and pants) and I in my blue and green velvet and sequined evening gown and green feather boa, we grabbed a taxi and went to Pier 29. Teatro Zinzanni, if you haven’t seen it, is more-or-less like Cirque de Soleil but it’s dinner theater style with a lot of audience participation. The show has a loose plot line that ties in the menu and courses with the musical numbers, contortionists, and zany stage antics. There was a table of loud bachelorettes right next to us who were more interested in flirting with the guys on the other side of them than they were in the show. It was pretty annoying. Frankly, I couldn’t see why they even bothered to come and pay all that moola if they weren’t going to actually enjoy the show. And they got so annoying that I was about ready to stomp over in my most lady-like of outfits and behave in a most unlady-like manner if they didn’t shutthefuckup. Fortunately, the house intervened and shortened their leash, otherwise I might have embarrassed myself and Hermes. The show was great. They change the story line and the featured acts regularly. If you ever have a chance, go!
All in all, I have to give myself a pat on the back for being a trooper throughout the day, considering that felt like I could hardly move comfotably, I had mostly lost my appetite, and all I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch and sleep off my cramps. It wasn’t ideal; it would have been a lot more enjoyable for us both without that complication (and without the constant grey, 60 degree weather), but we made the best of it and still had a good time.
Sunday morning, though, Hermes tried to give me some compliment that, unbeknownst to him, came out all wrong and ended up pissing me off. I’ll spare him the embarrassing details. But needless to say, it pissed me off and I said so. We wrangled about it a bit and then I got huffy and went out for a walk to cool off. Afterwards, we got it all sorted out and it has since become a funny thing we joke about. And, we didn’t know it at the time, but it was a perfect lead to the next person we would meet.
We decided to wander down Haight street and then do a museum or two in Golden Gate Park. And while we were waiting at the bus stop off of Mission, Mexico beat Iran in the world cup and the whole neighborhood poured out onto the streets and started celebrating and honking their horns and dancing and waving the Mexican flag. It was so jubilant, I couldn’t help but just stand there and giggle. A guy at the bus stop struck up a conversation with us that lasted all the way to Haight Street. Now, this guy was the perfect topper to a well-rounded trip to San Fran: he was a living relic of the hippie counterculture with his long black hair; covered with a fur top hat; wearing grateful dead skull rings on his knuckles; and sporting a pair of big, round, blue-rimmed John Lennon sunglasses and a brand new Dickies overalls, and, underneath that, a Hawaiian shirt with a pattern of licking flames. Turns out the Haight Street Festival was on and he was going to over to share in the celebration. The whole way, he bent our ears and shared his wisom on everything from how to get the best indoor marijuana crop to how to make a relationship last.
I forget what he asked Hermes, but Hermes said something regarding some quirk of his own and Richard the Hippie elbows me and says, “He has issues. That means he’s trainable.” To which I laughed out loud but then stopped in wonderment when I realized how dead on and succinct he was about the human condition. And then he turns to Hermes and says with completely matter-of-factness (no bitterness at all), “She’ll get you to change eventually. And you’ll know if you’ve done it right, because she won’t stick around otherwise.” It sounds harsh typing it out here, but it didn’t come out that way at the time. It wasn’t a stupid “males vs females/isn’t the opposite sex clueless and painful” comments. It actually was just one of those “Hey, this is just the way life is. Might as well just call it the way I see it,” kinds of conversations and, frankly, it was pretty dead on.
We got to Haight street and had fun people watching and shopping. Hermes got me a cool, long-sleeved t-shirt with an Alex Grey painting all down the chest, back, and sleeves. I bought him a Krishna lunch box for school. And we got some little, knitted finger puppets from an Equadorian woman. Hermes ate a deep-friend twinkie (yuck!) and we munched on falafels and listened to music and then we wandered in Golden Gate Park for a while and then headed back to the B&B and then to the airport where we saw blue sky for the first time in two days. My mood lifted immediately (and I didn’t even know that I had been feeling particularly moody). I forget how important sunshine is to my mental health. I’m damn lucky to live where I do.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some stuff. It was a full weekend. I’ll post some pictures soon.