Sometimes in a city the size of San Francisco--not too big, not too small, some might say just right--you get close to people who are total strangers. Closer, at least, than you were before you never saw them at all.
This big city is such a small town that you can see the same people every day on your way to and from work. You are neighbors, apparently, who work in places along the same route. You know his red and black plaid lumberjack shirt that smells like fresh cigarette smoke and his sock hat pulled over wet hair and how he plays solitaire on his phone every morning as if there are no other games.
There is the morning when you are still sleepy and the music in your ears is lulling and the hum of the bus comforts you, and for an instant you let your neck go slack and your body falls slightly to the left, before you realize you nearly laid your head to rest on the shoulder of a man whose name you do not know.
"When you two grow up you'll be best friends."
I don't remember her being born or the time before it; she's always been my sister.
She was the girl who the opposing softball teams would intentionally walk because she could crush a ball over just about any fence while I sat on the bench.
She was the life of the party with the bawdiest jokes and the loudest, most infectious laugh while I tried to warm up to a cat in the other room.
She was always the one with the biggest, tenderest heart, the openest arms, the most to give.
She was the one who let mean boys treat her like pure shit because she sees the good in the rottenest of things (and because she's capable of so much intimacy and affection).
She's the one who changed all that, stopped letting people treat her badly, and grew strong and tall with a backbone the likes of which I have rarely seen.
We used to beat each other senseless as children. I used to think it was because we are so very different. Decades later I know it is because we are so very much alike, and just typing that fills me with such pride that my eyes well up.
When we were teenagers I ratted her out for sneaking out of the house at night. It was retribution, but also out of spite, because she had the courage to be bold and brave and naughty while I desperately obeyed all the rules. That she still speaks to me after this betrayal is a testament to her soft heart (though it did take a good long time).
I love that girl. And my daddy was right. That kid I used to shove and kick and hit is now my best friend.
And it's her birthday! I hope it's the best one she's ever had.
I went to Napa yesterday. A friend picked me up in a car and four of us drove north.
I lost my phone Saturday night, an expensive loss that left me with no means to document my trip to wine country. Turns out, that was just fine.
I sat in the back, my knees jammed into the seat. Rather than look at the scenes others had posted earlier to their Instagram accounts, I looked out the window at the weird orange California grass that covers hillsides. We talked about Darwin and sexual fetishes. Miles and miles of grapes fluttered past so fast. I'd never seen grapes growing before yesterday.
The dessert wine in a delicate flute was the color of perfect honey. Natural light poured down on the glasses and made them each sparkle and shine. I'd have taken a picture.
I am so bloated and tired and emotional, so very emotional, right on the cusp of tears or a giggle, it could really go either way.
I hurt. My flesh is too tight.
I need to be held, but please don't touch me.