The streets remain quiet, even after Xmas has come and gone. Those who remain hide behind locked doors. But some can be found on buses or in bars, reclining in cafes, quietly socializing on public steps, or catching up on movies, alone or with companions. The sun peaks above three-story Victorian edifices, but it gets very cold, California cold, at night. It is a San Francisco that resembles 1970s cinematic imagery: Bullitt, Dirty Harry, The Conversation. Before it was impossible to find a parking spot. Back in the days when an apartment was affordable. Before major events brought points of convergance and people flooded through the makeshift turnstiles when the cornets and drum machines let loose. Those who remain are silent about their private quests, but are congenial. They volunteer for worthy causes. They wish total strangers, “Happy holidays.” They look out for each other. They commit time without burdens, fueled by a laconic spirit of giving, unencumbered by familial artifices, their smiles resisting bourgeois falsehoods against Pottery Barn splendor. They are the true souls of the City.
There was a reason why so many buildings eschewed Xmas lights, even in the affluent pockets of Lake Street. The residents within didn’t expect to stick around.
But when the remaining two-thirds of the population return from their holiday getaways, replete with booty and fruitcakes, the streets will flood with people again. The mad rush, the pitter-patter of cell phones, the trundling streetcars snailing beneath Market Street at rush hour, the chaotic dichotomy of whether to stick around or extirpate roots to head to another town that will advance a career. All will return. Ineluctable regularities. The anguished groupings.
For now, peace on earth truly rules in the air. But perhaps it’s just me.
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