Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ghosts on Muni

I see ghosts on Muni sometimes. Or maybe it's more apt to say, I see ghosts while I'm on Muni.

It's nostalgia more than anything else. Missing friends who've moved, wistfully remembering places I've wanted to share with other far-flung loved ones.

The man who looks familiar from the back. His smile that reminds me of R., at least the R. in the faded photo tucked into the old journal bought from an estate sale out by City College.

The ghosts of long-shuttered stores and restaurants, the memories that come with them.

The Daily Dose on Irving Street. Writing postcards and drinking iced tea. The man who worked there, with his short, fat fingers.

Renting videos from Leather Tongue or Naked Eye or Into Video.

Hanging out in Mission Grounds drinking coffee. Snapping photos.

Writing group meetings at Cafe Macondo (now Gestalt), when I was only just getting to know the rest of the group. And even before, when the cafe had a different name I can't remember any more.

La Casa de Libros on Valencia. Buying Mexican detective novels.
Going to shows at the Covered Wagon. Walking back up to Market Street in the dead of night to catch the 7-Haight.

Elliott at the Fillmore my first spring in town. Keeping a set list for F.
Later, listening to an NPR obituary for him while commuting home on the 22, trying not to cry.

The briefest memory of a night on the N Judah with M. and Maria and Jason, coming home in the fog from a house party near Ocean Beach. Who I was then. Who I am now, not much different, just older, maybe less likely to go to a stranger's home so far away from my own.

Worrying. Worrying when I don't see the Alien donut man as often as I'd like, worrying that I haven't seen several other elderly commuters recently.

Seeing people who never existed except in my fiction: Emiliano on his skateboard down on 16th and Vermont. Another character clutching the strap on a crowded J-Church, struggling to stay upright.


Blogger Marcia said...

I love it. Beautifully written and it reminds me of all the ghosts in my neighborhood too. Things change but not always for the better.

1:17 PM  
Blogger professoreric said...

Stupid. You made me cry.
R.I.P. R...

12:18 AM  
Anonymous tobymarx said...

Lovely essay.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you, thank you.
(Sorry I made you cry, Profe!)

8:15 AM  
Blogger namastenancy said...

What a beautifully written post. I am very remiss in commenting as I read your blog all the time and never have stopped to say "hello" and "thanks." I've now lived in SF for 45 years and know what you mean about ghosts. I find myself daydreaming on the bus about how that placed used to look, catch myself "recognizing" a friend from long ago and then, realizing that he's passed away. I think often of the way that things used to be and try to not feel that life was better "then." But memories do weigh down the heart and thank you for saying so, so every eloquently.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you so much, Namastenancy!
And thank you for reading.

12:35 PM  

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