I tried to love the city yesterday and she didn’t love me back the way I needed to be loved. I put on a long, flowing skirt that sat below my belly button, comfortable shoes, a little lipstick, and one of my favorite hats. And once I was spruced up, I walked down her streets. I wanted her to notice me. I wanted her to like my company and wanted her to cheer me up and remove the bit of sadness I woke up with.
I walked from my apartment on Grove Street to Divisadero, up and over Pacific Heights, through the Marina, and along Chrissy Field. Occasionally, I grabbed onto a light pole and spun around it like I was in a movie. I sung softly as I walked. The sun was bright, and the breeze licked my skin. I watched dogs jump after balls in the ocean. I saw troupes of exercisers with weights and colorful resistant bands. Then I climbed back over the hill and went to Mojo Bicycle Café to satisfy my stomach. From there, I walked to Alamo Square. I nestled down in the cold grass and stared at the sky. I tried to feel each blade on my arms, my shoulders, the back of my neck, my ankles—anywhere without clothing.
I wanted all that sky and air and grass to make me feel loved. Caressed. I wanted to feel wanted by something that I love.
And I love San Francisco.
I love the old Victorian houses. I love rollerskating in Golden Gate Park when the streets are shut down to traffic on Sundays. I love the vegetarian restaurants. I love that all cafes have soy milk. I love that if I find the energy to climb a hill, I can see the ocean and bridges and mountains in the distance. I love that on any given day you can go see bellydancers or smoke hookas. I love that you can get Ethiopian, Mexican, Indian, Italian, BBQ, Vegan, or Thai in my neighborhood and then go see live music at the Independent.
I want to be scooped up by the city’s branches like the little boy in The Giving Tree. It gives me a lot, but the city cannot love me the way I need to be loved. It can’t kiss the nape of my neck. It can’t hold my hands. Or look into my eyes. It can’t snuggle up with me or talk about NPR.
After lying in the grass for a while, instead of feeling the joy I’d hoped for, I just felt alone on the hillside. Then I started thinking about the loves of my life – it’s a very short list – and I wished that they had been able to love me the way I needed to be loved. But it didn’t work out that way. And I know I’m partially to blame. Letting a relationship die takes two people, just as keeping a relationship alive takes two people.
And then I started thinking about the men I’ve kissed. The men whose mouths have grazed my neck. Whose hands have held the nape of my neck. I thought about the few men that wanted me to love them that I didn’t love. That I couldn’t love. I thought about the few whose hands have touched the small of my back, the curve of my breast. They might have wanted to fuck me, but they didn’t love me.
This is the part of the story where I’m supposed to have some realization about the joy of solitude or the happiness of just being in the moment. Where I remind myself how much I enjoy my solitude. How I like my own company. How I am happy to have time to myself after so many years without it. Because those things are all true. But it just didn't work today. I just felt sad, even with the sky and the grass and the old houses and vegetarian restaurants.
As I walked back to my apartment, a man said, “Hey, how you doin’ suga” as I passed him on the street. That made me smile for a few minutes. But after I unlocked my apartment and went inside, I was still alone. Still feeling sad. I guess some days are just like that.