Fleet Week in San Francisco brings thousands of people to the Bay Area to witness the remarkable feats of air machines that maneuver so nimbly it takes your breath away. I have to conceal my enthusiasm so I only appear to be astounded as the Blue Angels whiz by at near eye level, wing to wing, six planes deep. It’s an exhilarating experience to hear the engines but not see the planes until they rip over the crest of the city, duck behind a building and emerge just above the water as you stand on shore. Even with a one-on-one conversation with a pilot, I don’t believe I would ever grasp what it feels like to fly an F/A-18 over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the bay…exiting out the other end in about 6 seconds.
But I’m open to that conversation, nonetheless. Along with the rest of the female population.
The ferry was my transportation to the city that day to meet Mr. Delicious. It’s hard to call it commuting when you ride the ferry through the bay of San Francisco, past Sausalito and the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz, with suspension bridges and a gorgeous city reining in the beauty, capturing it in arms of steel.
This is a glorious way to start the day.
Mr. Delicious arrived minutes after me at the Ferry Terminal Building – more marketplace for the love of all things sustenance – giving me a strong hug and a very special bag of gluten free flour especially made for pizza. Foodies are so easy to please. And the pleasure didn’t end there. We made our way west on the Embarcadero to La Mar, a Peruvian cebichería, or restaurant that specializes in ceviche. But it is so much more than that. It was after 11 AM…so we ordered a cocktail. Mr. Delicious went frothy with an egg-white something and mine a tequila spiked jungle version of a fruity tropical drink. More earthy, but still sweet. As with wine, I am not able to recall names, or all ingredients, which is why I call restaurants afterwards for the recipe. (Note to self…)
We had a lot of catching up to do. It had been about six weeks since we had last seen each other. Since that time he moved out of the home he shared with his former fiancé, made a trip back East for a special family celebration, and was enjoying being on his own in a new town with a renewed zest for life. The conversation barely paused as we crunched yucca chips, shared a tasting of four cebiches and revisited our most recent experiences.
After a long walk, we gave up on our quest to find an aircraft carrier to board and made our way to the Pier 23 Cafe; the kind of one-story, bungalow-ish building you’d expect to see in a sleepy beach town, complete with wood cut-outs of palm trees nailed to the facade between double-hung windows with frames painted a Caribbean blue. Round picnic tables clustered around the left of the building leading to the back patio, all with a view of the water. And all were occupied by people staring up at the sky, awaiting the arrival of the Blue Angels, with cocktails in hand, grateful for their front row seat, waterside. We stood on the edge of the seating area next to a couple of parked Harley Davidson motorcycles, whose owners must have been inside the lively bar, where Mr. Delicious ventured on a mission to quench our thirst.
Our walk left me hot. Being that it is San Francisco, I removed my jacket and tossed it and my sweater on the blacktop, leaving me in a tank top with a scarf. It’s four-season dressing every time you leave the house here. After removing my phone, I tucked my black clutch purse under the garments, barely noticing a quiet voice inside that said, You are so going to forget it’s under there.
(I just heard my first clap of thunder in Marin. THAT rarely happens here. So beautiful. And now the first rain storm of the season. Oh, the sound of the ocean spilling out of the clouds…I had to share.)
Pictures cannot capture what it felt like, literally physically felt like, to be buzzed by an F/A-18, or six. But I tried to capture it anyway, turning around and around to spot them, with the sound of their engines guiding my gaze. The glare of the sun made it impossible to tell if I was getting them in the shot, so the camera got tucked away in my jeans and I made it my mission to burn the experience into my mind while my chest echoed their roar. Unlike a motorcycle engine, a sound I abhor, the roar of a jet does things to me that only men and liquid chocolate can do.
Mr. Delicious returned in time to watch the Blue Angels descend in groups of two, cross paths, bank the hill and shoot up to the sky, peeling off in all directions with one spiraling up until it was a glistening tiny tube before it nosedived to Earth. I had to cover my mouth lest he fly right in.
Mr. Delicious noticed that two chairs at one of the picnic tables closest to us were vacant. I grabbed my jacket and sweater and we sat to continue our conversation, which likely totaled well over 50 topics by that point, pausing only when we heard the roar of engines overhead.
The skies soon quieted and the clock was signaling us to depart for the Ferry Building where Mr. Delicious had to catch a 6 o’clock boat. We hoped to grab a few oysters or poke around some shops before he boarded the vessel and I ventured off to create the balance of my day in the city. I had originally hoped we would spend the evening together, but the timing was spot on. I was looking forward to a night alone, wherever it may take me.
With a satisfied smile on my face I reached for my jacket and sweater. I should have continued my reach right to the ground to pick up my heart. That’s where it sank when I realized I had left my purse 10 feet away, next to a sign post, where it had been hidden by my clothing until I unconsciously grabbed them, leaving it behind, a prize for the taking.
I cannot believe I am going to have to text The Genius to see if he has a spare key to my car. I would rather walk home. And I had just tapped the ATM! Oh, well. It’s gone. That was an easy grab for someone. They didn’t even have to dig around in a massive satchel stuffed with tampons and sand and chewed gum the kids tossed in, because Mommy’s bag is pretty much a trash receptacle.
At least I only had my driver license and bank card in there.
Mr. Delicious looked at me, blue eyes fixed with concern. I’m so sorry.
Thanks. I KNEW I was going to do that but I did nothing about it. I shrugged it off, but I wasn’t standing as tall, my smile not broad.
I have a track record of leaving my purses out and about. Places where you don’t want to leave purses, like the bathroom of a restaurant, a seat in a movie theater, in the midst of a mall food court in Barcelona. Each time (more than a few, I must admit) it happened when I was with The Genius his reaction was disappointment and aloofness. He never considered the internal scolding I was giving myself. He didn’t console me. I spent a lot of time walking on egg shells around him, especially when I did something that altered the game plan (bag dinner, I have to go cancel cards now), or when I failed at something. He never got angry, and eventually he would laugh about it, like it was a cute little trait of mine (that he despised). But all along I felt judged.
Mr. Delicious did not judge me. He simply felt bad that our day wouldn’t end on a perfect note.
The obvious move was to check inside the cafe to see if it had been turned in, but neither of us had high hopes, although I distinctly remember an urge to not control the outcome. The hostess came up empty, but went to check with the manager. When the manager came out into the bar area I could tell from the delighted look in her eyes that she was about to make my day.
I described the clutch and she pulled it from behind her back.
You are one lucky girl. A woman brought it in.
In a red tank top?
I had seen her straddle a Harley, grabbing her man from behind as they roared off with a sound not nearly as pleasing as the jets. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Now I have a reason to smile when the piercing sound of a motorcycle threatens to make my ears bleed.
Mr. Delicious beamed. She was your angel today. How rare to get your purse back, and with everything still in it!
Yes, she was.
(Thank you, whoever you may be, for being so kind and loyal to your fellow woman. I am certain you’ve been rewarded for your honesty.)
Elated, we walked back to the Ferry Building and took to a bench on the water to await boarding. Our conversation turned to our shared experience with betrayal and the sad state of humankind when it comes to being honest with each other. Where did the loyalty go? The values? The acceptance of and appreciation for the hard times? The desire to weather them out of personal pride and a respect for the commitment made?
Did she give you the ring back?
No. She said it was a gift. And that she wants to keep it as a reminder of what we once shared.
I’m still floored by that spin.
We sat half-facing each other, gazing out on the bay, feeling like throwbacks. Two people who are holding onto a set of ideals that don’t seem to carry much value anymore. Both blind-sided by infidelity. Both cautiously hoping that one day we’ll meet someone who we can trust and love.
The horn on the ferry sounded. I clutched my pizza dough, and my purse (I noticed him keeping an eye on it.) and we made our way to the dock. A day of highs and one almost low was capped off with a sweet kiss and fast hug before the boat pulled away.
The Larkspur Ferry had just opened the gate on the other side of the building and streams of commuters moved up the dock. Thoughts of a night in the city alone evaporated. I wanted to be on a pullout on Highway 1 overlooking the Pacific in time for sunset to celebrate the day. I jogged (in heels that had carried me miles with no knee pain!) to the boat and weaved my way into the animated crowd. Two men fell in beside me as we walked up the ramp to board.
We struck up a conversation.
Join us in a cocktail! (This can’t be called a commute.) I smiled and declined.
Well, at least sit with us for the ride.
I spent the next hour laughing my tuchus off and listening to the best sales pitch ever as to why I should go on a blind date with a litigator in Los Angeles.
I really need to get out more. For the fun of it.
But not for love.