I was sitting in the station and a voice projected from the loudspeaker, the same voice on the other end of a telephone line when you've made an incorrect dial, the same voice that informs you what number is finally being served after you've taken a ticket from the dispenser at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Two-car-N-in-seh-ven mih-nuts. An extremely attractive Asian girl exposing her smooth long legs and a pink-sweatered chihuahua on a glittered leash stops to wait for her route's train right before my worn sneakers, my torn pseudo-flannel. I watched her dog for about five minutes when the automated woman projected again, two-car-N-in-seh-ven-mih-nuts. That's what it said five minutes ago! Oh well, I guessed, I should be used to this by now, right? I guess.
This time it was actually a well-estimated seven minutes until my train approached. It arrived at the station, filled with people beyond it's maximum capable capacity, but I simply could not wait any longer. I had to board this specific arrival. Just like I always do. It's not like this ride will last forever, I thought, EVENTUALLY, this car will be less crowded after a few stops. But those few stops lasted an eternity. An eternity in which I realized too many things to remain with the content I thought I found in San Francisco. Upon being macerated by such an immense mass of people I examined my surroundings. There happened to be more than one few armpits, thick and tangled gnarly black hairs less than one inch from my eyes. Why did every pork-stuffed old man downtown have to wear a tank top today? An old married couple felt it was necessary to speak saw-toothed Chinese as flagrantly as possible in my face, and an ambiguously pretty girl--I couldn't quite get a glimpse of her face-- apparently valued sending text messages enough to relinquish her own center of balance to the point where she left herself swaying back and forth onto whoever on the wobbling train might catch her.
With unfathomable effort, I patiently waited as an old vagabond with at least five huge bags and a guitar forced me farther into the can of traveling anchovies. His hair was white and he had a long white beard like Father Time, and dirt was caked on his skin everywhere it was exposed. Somewhere between the rancid smell of his clothes and the greasy armpit consuming my tiny face a thought occurred, circled endlessly through every node in my brain like stock cars in a NASCAR lap race,
This city has lost its magic.
This city has really lost its magic.
Recalling the first time I visited San Francisco with my parents, all the sites we saw, the recounting of escapades we narrated to our family and friends when we returned from vacation, I truly believed that it was a wonderland. Here, a homeless man hides behind half of a tree and scares the living shit out of passersby, and they give him money! Here, people walk through the park completely naked, and they don't get cited for it! In San Francisco, you can smoke all the drugs you want, and people think that's great! Nonetheless, after working downtown for over a year, the sight of the endless line of tourists waiting to board the rotating cable car stop induces a sickness within me similar to what a Christian soccer mom would feel if she was forced to watch explicit German scat fetish pornography for five consecutive hours. Mostly, I've acquired a distaste for the city's local culture. People come here to reinvent themselves, and they do just that. Becoming the person they always dreamed of being but couldn't [because everyone who knew them before would question the sudden change] is suddenly attainable, because all the other people who've ended up here are already too preoccupied with their own self-transformation to notice yours. I haven't met many people in San Francisco, mostly I've been introduced to surfaces. Masks aided by funny hats, Camel lights, and scores of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
This obsession with providing two-dimensional images of oneself has left people doing nothing with their lives. All of us who originally intended to attend school here realized that college is a waste of time, we can sustain ourselves with minimum wage jobs for the rest of our lives, leaving us with plenty of free time and just enough extra money to buy alcohol and cigarettes. But we don't want to see past that, into the ugly relentless future, where regret hones the human psyche past the point of simple contentment. Instead, we shall refuse to simply leave our hearts in San Francisco, we will exercise them to their last struggling beats.
Closer to home, about four stops from my destination, I looked out the window and saw two women, a mother and a daughter walking together, matching pace, synchronized in their steps and arm movements. Parallelism in plain sight, this is what it looks like, two normal ladies wearing giant t-shirts, stretchy camel-toe pants and New Balance sneakers moving in synchronicity, and to be honest, it appears quite stupid. Not that it was divinely profound or anything, it just brought forward the realization that going with whatever flow is boring, I'm going to get off this train and do something, anything, everything. And the first step I have to take begins with this city to my backside, getting progressively smaller and out of view as I continue forward.
A shame, really, that a place so perfect should be so poisonous.