Sunday, June 18, 2006

Saturday Tea

I didn't do poorly this weekend considering my father's been in the hospital and half of my brain has been in Raleigh, NC for the last 5 days.

I spent a lot of time in bed thinking about what kind of daughter I am, thinking about the river because I'd love to be paddling the American with these balmy summer days coming up, and thanking goodness for this family that has slowly formed around me in the Bay Area.

Yesterday I called Michelle after the USA-Italy game. She said she was meeting T for tea in the city. And I said I was game. Sure.

I walked to the busstop and noticed that an NL Transbay Bus was about to hit the corner. I put my little walk to a jog and my backpack bounced up and down like I was running for the schoolbus. The stop light was with me. I arrived, regained my breath and took out my Transbay pass. It slipped in and signaled $3.50.

I walked up the aisle to a fold-down chair and pulled out my book of crossword puzzles to pass the time and divert my gaze any busriding weirdos.

I am out of practice with my crosswords, but am rediscovering them. All in time for Will Shortz's documentary "Wordplay" to come out on June 23.

Yes, Cruciverbalism hits the silver screen and I am excited to see it. Of course, what other nerdy friend can I find to see it with me? My friend Mike is in Portland and Megan is always working...dang.

Anywho. My phone is dying when I land in San Francisco and I call Michelle. She and T have switched venues and they are now meeting in the Sunset with Denise, Doug and Huy.

No problem, I say. It'll be 40 minutes.

I walk toward Market Street from 1st and Mission and head underground. The city is balmy. The wind is warm. Life is good. I am relaxing about my father's heart attack.

When I slide my MUNI pass into the turnstyle and head down the escalator, I notice a lost-looking, touristy fellow. He is blonde and looks just out of place in his dress and demeanor. I ask him if he needs help. He is looking for a MUNI map and wants to know if he's headed in the right direction toward Ocean Beach.

I agree with him. It would be a good idea if there were system maps in the underground section of the train, but you don't get to see them until you are on the train. I tell him he needs to go Outbound and I am heading that way, so he can jump on the train with me.

The mechanical announcer says, "Outbound, N, N, in 2 minutes."

There's our train. A two-car N arrives, the doors open, and our cordial conversation continues. The din of the crowd ends my understanding of what he's saying. I pull my eyes away and pull out the crossword puzzle again.

A Muslim woman with many Macy's bags nervously wheels a baby carriage in the corner of the car, while a gay dad guides his toddler near to where the Muslim woman has sat and is exclamating EVERYTHING about the people and the day and the MUNI train in a voice that seems shrill to my old ears, but engaging to the toddler.

I smile, wondering what the routine is at these two different households. Both children are about the same age, but I imagine the parenting experience might be different. I wonder if these two kids will catch up in pre-school and become best friends.

Underground becomes overground and the announcement for the stairs dropping is barely audible over the loudspeaker.

The car has become full and my tourist friend is about to get off, hails my attention and thanks me for my help.

Totally polite. Nice.

I stay on for 3 more stops and then disembark on 8th and Irving.

Where did T say to go?

I give a quick call on my dying phone and get directions. I pass by the comic shop and the Naan-n-Curry. I notice the Crepevine.

I don't notice a lot of these things in my bubble of a car.

I now feel that I smell like MUNI on a hot day and don't feel appropriate for tea. I squelch this thought as I tie my half-twisted hair into two buns and under a kerchief and thank goodness that my friends are cool and I don't have to worry about what I look like and can just make jokes up for what I smell like.

Service has just come to the table when I walk into the Tea Garden on Lincoln and 8th. Proper sandwiches, little desserts, lovely scones, jam and 4 different teas.

There are roses and tea services galore and I relax, take a seat and take a moment to realize I am with friends and it is good.

We discuss the game. The USA Italy game. And the Ghana game.

And I laugh and that, too, is very good.

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