The sound is Feist and Andra Day as the cool breeze finally comes to San Francisco on a late Friday afternoon. The weekend begins and people move in and out; the tempo increases, a pigeon wanders in. The dishes behind the counter rattle more loudly. There is breathlessness in people’s movements even as puffs of air come in through the open windows. The cafe is clearing out and the patronage is more random. A sixty-something couple sits across the bar table from a twenty-something woman. I get news that I may be able to force payment for a job I’ve been working on for months. What wind is that which blows news of a battle?
On tiny laptop at the Blue Bottle cafe I turn inward and outward at the same time while my work life continues. Despite my supposed conviction that I should shun email when working on a project I look. And I reply to my teammate who is setting me up to make a bunch of calls to prospective fellow panelists. How does this fit with the early dinner-and-show goers and my own plans to depart for dinner with family from out of town? To depart within minutes, perhaps seconds. In fact I have already departed and am on a train in the sunshine on the other side of the Bay. Still, it’s peaceful, I’m surrounded by beauty, and no kids are screaming at each other and at me. Needless to say, nor is my wife. The writing escape is a place to start.
This is a revision. A revision so deep I’m not sure there is even one word left of the original. I just deleted two paragraphs which depicted an experience at a restaurant. Gone. What restaurant? Imagine staring at the bright sun, through clouds in the early evening. It washes everything out of your mind and you start thinking again from scratch. You’re left with a new moment that’s different from the one you were in before. You’re simply not in the one before, anymore. I just got a text from my wife that our dog has been put into the cone of shame. She didn’t say why. I had already put the picture of her in the cone next to this story. I’ve entered a tunnel, the dog has entered the cone, my colleague attempts to call me about another transaction while I’m on the BART. In my revised life I’m not at a hotel restaurant eating rabbit meatballs I’m here, with all these demands following me like rabid bats or homing missiles.
I remember the bright late afternoon sun at the beach at Lake Tahoe. It was earlier this summer and there was either a rainstorm coming or going or there had been one the day before and it was just starting to sprinkle again, or it had finished sprinkling and we’d had our dinner and were standing out on the beach afterwards looking at the sunset. The kids were playing in the wet sand at the shore. And where was I? I don’t know. That’s why I try to write about the actual current moment. I’m now sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Berkeley in the late afternoon, very late August sun and breeze. In the shadow of the buildings actually, with my son and some snacks and the dog, now out of her cone. But now I feel that I’m in my own cone of shame for failing to help my wife more this summer with the kids and taking out time to write. And so August passes away and the sun sets.