Sun, 18 Dec 2011 01:04:44 0100
When "winter" comes to San Francisco, the bike messengers put on long sleeves, and I dig out my otherwise-unused orange umbrella. We complain if the the temperature stays in the 50's all day, are shocked every year on the few days it stays in the 40's. Some Twin Peaks residents collectively hallucinated a few snowflakes last year; icicles are strings of lights, not frozen stalactites of water. If I can't find my fingerless gloves, a tiny Americano from Four Barrel is the perfect substitute: Hot coffee (do the LPs playing on their vintage turntable in their shop on Valencia make it taste better?) warms both my palms through the small paper cup, exactly the way two roasted chestnuts were my gloves in Vienna ten years ago. The parallel struck me suddenly Sunday morning as I walked out of their warm, wallpapered cafe, out toward the parklets on the curb (empty of caffeinated patrons in this "weather"); I stopped in my tracks, briefly suspended between two ends of a decade.
I'm flying back to 2001 today as well, this time on a 747 headed for Berlin via Frankfurt, where real winter (but also Glühwein, and also Trisha) awaits me. Q4 is once again abruptly over -- what's done is done, and what's undone not worth thinking about for two weeks; brainpower is now needed for recalling what remains of my German food vocabulary. Das Spinoff (the reality TV series Traffic-Team-XX would have, if we did) has as yet no plans in Deutschland beyond figuring out how to top up borrowed local SIM cards, and finding hot chestnuts, modern art, and Pediküren (whether or not that's a word).
These flashbacks aren't limited to the gustatory. In the fourth row at Tori Amos's show at the Paramount last night, I stared fixedly at the candelabra chandelier suspended over her [perplexingly closed-top] concert-grand Bösendorfer, not hearing her lyrics so much as reciprocating the glass candles' luminosity back from my heart. When was the last time I identified with a light fixture? Oh yes: April 2001, when I was a sophomore quoting Eliot and lilacs, beaming like a sparkler along the wooded path behind the music building; through November of that year, when I realized from a Stehplatz at the Wiener Staatsoper that I no longer thrummed along with the sconces. And here I've thought this whole time that that was just because I was 21.
I let the author of this luminescence buy me dinner the other night; I then bought him a cocktail. No idea if I'm playing these cards right, or even if there's a right way to play them. But oh, it's bright.
But (I remind myself) this is 2011, no longer (thank god) 2001. Then, I was a college student unsure of my major, perennially behind on my homework, and I warmed my hands with chestnuts like a Dickensian orphan; now, I'm a Senior SRE, I own a fabulous house with my own external chandelier, and I need ersatz hand-warmer hipster Amer-au-laits only when I forget my hipster gloves. Should this brief candle also gutter (or really, fail to catch), I'll still be in such a better place. What a difference a decade makes.