Sacred Space — Arrival The wrinkled woman resting in the doorway hustles aside, her bones twitching hard: “I'm sorry, Sir,” as I pull my bag into the Inn on Folsom Street1. ⥨ Exposed brick walls try hard in my suddenly empty room. Industrial. Rough-Masculine. I don’t...feel anything. I thought I’d feel something. No ghosts. Nothing. ⥨ I know the old fairies flew south years ago. No place for the Auden-faced. And the demons? Those super-charged leather dangers stalking prey in red steam? Now they cam2 from rented rooms in Sacramento and San Diego, their hunting names changed from Steve to Chase, TwinkChase3, ever-so-sweet-and- special Chase. I don't know what to pray for or to, not in this abandoned church. ⥨ Walking While Thinking — SoMa4 What if the usurpers, the influencers paying $1.9 million for a pissed piece of SoMa, are just waiting for us to die? What if these squatters, these supplanters, are the Old City’s fevered urge, lusting after land and Better Homes-ness, trading-in sweaty stories for a kid in an UPPAbaby5, the ultimate accessories? Makes sense as senses now scent safety, porning lean clean high-pitched action-figures in Lower Castro6. Everyone’s lost their balls. ⥨ Pause — Phone Call Home “Mike called,” says the man on the phone. My boyfriend. Back in LA. “What’d he want?” “Know where you were.” “What’d you say?” “Up in San Francisco. Probably getting disillusioned.” That’s why we’re at 20 years. More or less. ⥨ Exhibit — Dolores Park7 Cafe. Conversation, overheard while eating expensive steel-cut oatmeal. “And so he's interested in you finding a tenant for your property.” “Yeah, and we have so much in common!” Outside, those who can only afford the sidewalk are no-shows to the convention of web-developers and Mommy-n-Me in Lululemon8. I’m a haunted old spirit: “The best never survive.” ⥨ Walking Richmond9, after searching GG Park10 for Signs of Life. They all have money, or They have all the money. Houses high atop garage doors painted in expected candy-shop pastels. Millions couldn't buy in. But it's also an attitude; they fit. This kaleidoscopic nursery is their world. I like the sidewalk now; it’s original, the hard-marked past, bones of my city, cast when these houses were just houses, you could hear shouting because people shouted back before dot.coms and Grindr11, when bandanas12 spoke not conclusively, you had to look a guy in the eyes and the park was full of risk and joy. My world: on that older hill, the one covered in open-faced beauty and daring, weathered desire. Somewhere. Or sometime? ⥨ Processing — SFO13 A cocoon of security. We pay to pretend. You can’t pretend in bus stations. But here, I wonder with beating breathing heart: What would I do if I was asked for spare change at the United ticket counter? If I wanted a cigarette? If someone stood up and said preferred pronouns are simply an expansion of binary imprisonment? If an out-loud not-texted internet-free political need happened? Their aggrieved-teenager answer: “Is it so wrong to live unencumbered? Does everything real have to be uncomfortable?” It’s easy to get turned around by children. Now I miss their sandcastles, the peaceful playset neighborhood. Nobody who doesn’t belong wanders by. It’s nice. Just like an airport. It’s all that’s left. ⥨ Reflection — Flying, looking back San Francisco: where dreams and memory lay buried. Only ruins survive; fate has fashioned them weapons hope can’t overcome: marriage bourgeois magazines health money a future an attitude clean pecs success. But still... I look back as the plane banks for SoCal, for LA and my old boyfriend who will greet me outside third-world LAX14 and drive the stained and broken 40515 home, where books and vacuuming wait; and I see my once-home fading into a sunsetted Ocean that touches every time I’ve cared about, waiting, just waiting, and I find myself praying: Maybe you will be broken again, so like me when you led my strange and halting body through cracked unwanted lovely streets to flowers and eucalyptus, pro-offered grass in sheltered shadow and men became yours, cool-touching breeze, wounded naked-love in pine-fragranced gasping way-too-crowded dirty Heaven… I miss you. Shake off this juvenile dream. Please, God, let us be in love again.
Notes: 1 past and (somewhat) current location of San Francisco’s gay leather community 2 interactive filming of oneself engaged in sexual/intimate acts, either alone or with others, for a live internet audience, in exchange for money and/or tokens 3 unblemished young adult male, typically between the ages of 18-20, who utilizes his perceived innocence or actual lack of sexual experience in the pursuit of (generally) older adult males/“daddies” 4 South of Market; historically, the economically disadvantaged/“seedy” section of San Francisco 5 high-end baby stroller; average cost: $850 6 once known as GayMecca, the center of San Francisco’s Gay Liberation Movement of the mid-1970s 7 somewhat successful example of urban revitalization/renewal; once known as DrugPatch Park 8 high-end workout wear favored by teen girls and their mothers 9 neighborhood/district in the northwest corner of San Francisco, just north of Golden Gate Park 10 Golden Gate Park; known for its Victorian-styled Conservatory of Flowers and lengthy wooded trails; iconic location for public sexual activity 11 dating application designed to identify and communicate with potential gay male sex partners; lists inclinations and availability, as well as possible locations for sexual activity (host, travel, public, etc.) 12 heavy handkerchief positioned in the back pocket of gay males to communicate sexual inclination; historically, the color and side of placement indicated sexual appetite (eg: hunter-green in right-hand pocket = looking for a “daddy”). No conclusive guide existed/ exists for the placement/meaning of the bandana. 13 San Francisco International Airport 14 Los Angeles International Airport 15 also known as the San Diego Freeway; largest connector between the West Side of Los Angeles- proper and the populous San Fernando Valley
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