Friday, October 27, 2006

Indian Summer Sticks Around

I was art yesterday, or rather, I was Art.

Just 24 hours after meeting a guy who really was Art, and yet resembled art in no way, I strolled into the Westlake Center Starbucks and became Art, if only for the time it took them to make my hot chocolate. Embarassingly, I was not the only Art in Starbucks. The other Art -- who may have actually been Art if not art -- got his beverage first, fortunately, and was long gone by the time the faux Art, me, received his.

After that, I completely squandered whatever art/Art credibilityI had by sitting there and reading the sports section of the paper. Next time, just to shake things up, I'll be "Bruno" or "Flash," but I'll make sure to be very obviously reading the A & E section instead. After all, at one time my dream was to teach creative writing while wearing shorts and holding a Coke.

And never forget: life is serious, but art is fun. Or Art is fun.

Speaking of fun, right now you probably couldn't swing a cat without hitting someone here in San Francisco who'll wax eloquent about our recent weather. Thanks to the melting polar icecaps, Al Gore, Texaco, etc., we've enjoyed a string of 75 degree, cloudless days and 55 degree, starry nights.

This is fine, especially when your newspaper writing work takes you poolside for the Mills vs. Terra Nova girls' water polo match. And then follows up by sending you again poolside to watch the PAL Ocean Division champion Sequoia Cherokee boys water polo team conduct their final practice of the year.

As much as I love covering high school sports -- and I do. If it paid more than $50 a story, I'd love it that much more -- and as much as I enjoyed sitting in the sun, especially when the Sequoia girls' coach gave me a Jamba Juice he had left over from the ones he'd given his team, I still like a little Autumn with my Autumn. Which is a very long way of saying that when you swing that cat, if it hits me you won't find a cheerful advocate of 75 degree October afternoons.

One thing I miss about Seattle is the weather.

There, I said it. Without irony and not for effect. I truly do miss the weather in Seattle.

At first, like everyone else, I hated it. I remember winter days in 1988, huddled in my apartment rocking back and forth like an idiot, repeating, "If I could only get warm; if I could only get warm, etc.," and then going to see the movie "Heathers" with my girlfriend on Memorial Day weekend and commenting about how wrong it was that you could see your breath in late-May. "The rain keeps Seattle green," she beamed. This was a few months before she slapped me at a New Years' Eve party in front of my friends, leaving me to spend the first few hours of 1990 wandering, freezing and distraught, through the mean streets of Ballard.

The first year Sandra Bullock and I moved back to Seattle (1993), there was no summer. None. A woman I worked with cheerfully informed me, in mid-July, that "sometimes we don't get summer."

It used to infuriate me that the weathermen would act like nothing was wrong. "We'll have showers and then afternoon sunbreaks!" they'd crow, as if they were telling us to remember to bring extra sunscreen. "WHY DON'T THEY JUST ADMIT THAT THE WEATHER SUCKS!" I would yell at my 12-inch TV screen.

Eventually, I came to tolerate, and then like the weather. And now I miss it. Once I stopped worrying about the calendar, I realized that it was going to rain and rain, and then one day I'd wake up and it would be sunny. It snowed for 2 weeks every winter. Each snowstorm was treated as an weird anomaly, Mrs. Claus trading a warm day at the North Pole for a good old fashioned Christmas snowstorm in Southtown. Every so often we'd get a real New England-like autumn day, too, which I missed very badly today as I debated whether or not to wear shorts.

Toward the end of our stay in Seattle, I became like the weathermen, happily trudging off on 2-hour walks regardless of the weather. Practically all of my late-night memories involved shivering in heavy coats (often more than one at a time), the sky glowing a strange white-gray and a light rain falling.

I'm not sure why endless days of identically pleasant skies are considered God's gift to us, which is probably because it's been so long since I shared the Easterner's lust for sunny California, my father proudly walk through the snow in his shirtsleeves to board that plane in Scranton because we were MOVING TO CALIFORNIA, and then us arriving here and swimming in the Holiday Inn pool on March 22, 1976 because we could.

Now I like some texture to my weather, and God forbid the mercury should rise above 85 degrees, convincing people that it's okay to walk through cities in Tevas, their toes bared as if a ride on BART were actually a mid-summer camping trip. It's not that I don't like warm days; I just prefer to visit them than actually live in them.

We brag about our Indian Summer here, though I'm pretty sure no one would dare call it that within city limits. We suffer through the gloom of summer, to be rewarded with summer in October instead. Me, I don't care about the summer. Who does it really matter to, besides kids? We go to work anyway, whatever the calendar says.

Give me some red and yellow leaves, some rain, a reason to strap on a nice wool sweater and envelope my balding dome with a warm and stylish hat. Some of those dramatically cool cloud formations that would halfway cover the Olympic Mountains for most of the year. I'll shovel some snow. I don't mind.


Anonymous flush puppy said...

ha. "mean streets of ballard". good one. hmm. come to think of it, now that linda has invaded ballard too, the eastside yuppie quantity is sure to explode, resulting in some pretty mean streets indeed.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous zelda said...

i am here to argue with you, as someone 'besides kids' to whom this wacky weather schedule matters. i moved to san francisco in 1999 but taught in menlo park for the first two years, enjoying the best of both worlds: warm sunny peninsula days and cozy foggy city nights. since signing a contract at our current school in 2001, i have been trapped in the fog for years on end with two exceptions: july in jerusalem the past three summers, and every october in san francisco.

it is torture! every last day of school, we are all lined up standing outside the oh-so-'70s sanctuary at BIJ, huddled together against the surface clouds rolling up brotherhood way, trying to look cute in our t'filla clothes (kids) and new summer sundresses+shawls from banana republic and ann taylor (teachers) for aliyah and the last day of school...then, two and half months of jeans+wool sweaters later, it is the first day of school and trying to look cute we wear our back to school chunky-heeled open toe shoes and sleeveless frocks, again shivering against the 57-degree wind as all the new kids and parents hand us plastic bags of school supplies and shake our hand while taking our picture.

four weeks later it is october and summer and where are we? sweating our butts off in class trying to memorize things like the multiplication facts and the rule for whether the comma goes inside or outside the quotation marks. where would we rather be? ocean beach, baby. so drink your jamba juice and don't complain, i know you want to bundle up and jump in the leaves and shovel snow but there are a few adults whose June, July, and August are free and who wouldn't mind a few days of flip flop weather during the traditionally-scheduled summer.

not nearly as crotchety as this comment makes her sound,

8:49 PM  
Anonymous zelda said...

i said, BRRR!

it's COLD out there!

there MUST be some autumn in the AT-mo-sphere!

(embarrassed by the blatant _Bring It On_ reference, yes it was just recently in my house thanks to Netflix)

congratulations, Lefty, your chilly weather has finally arrived :)

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