It was a fantastic talk

Traffic was killing me. I had been in some sort of commute for two hours. But I finally arrived at 6:40 pm.

I swung into the first parking spot I saw. After registration (the usual awkward attempt at saying my last name), they directed me to the correct door and I walked into the auditorium.

I scanned the room and finally found Chris. He was recognizable from afar since it was a women event. But he was sitting in the second row. Shamelessly, I walked over and squeezed myself next to him whispering to his neighbor “Is this seat taken?”

I refocused my attention to the stage where the speaker was saying, “Well that’s all the time we have for the Q&A. Please join us for food and drinks outside.”

Two people are like stars

Are they on a collision path? And when they do touch—in the mere millisecond, an bright explosion begins spreading a white light.

Or do they orbit one another until one wobbles too much, losing their ground?

And how do they magnetize each other so much? How do they spot each other from the other stars in the world? How do they choose to repel everyone else and comfortably orbit around each other until the draw is too great to stay apart?

Or do they touch and then drift apart as quickly as they were initially magnetized?

“I need you.”

I know what it means to me.

I need you, because I want you to be here.

Instead, it comes out as Can I hang out with you? coupled with a caveat of I don’t want to be intrusive if you’re busy. And it quickly agrees to an excuse of Oh it’s ok…it wasn’t that important anyway.

This is where my cognitive dissonance comes in…and for 10 minutes, I can feel ok. Only 10 minutes and suddenly all I wanted to say in the first place was I need you.

And we missed it anyway…

And this is so how it happened on Tuesday.

7:44 am
Just as I predicted, I am leaving late. The day before, I said that I would be there at 7:45 am. But it’s going to be ok, going to be ok…as I pull out of my garage. Checking twice to see that the garage door closed.

7:55 am
Thankfully, street traffic was not bad. I call Francis and he says that he needs a few minutes. I should have warned him. I attempt to park in front of his place, but fail. Instead, I pull to nearby corner and park, twisting my wheels to the curb. Various people walking to work spill out of the nearby buildings walking with a sense of purpose, bags full of the waiting day.

8:03 am
He tumbles out his door pulling his disassembled folding bike. Two wheels and the frame. Around the corner I say and pop the trunk. He puts it in. Then we’re off. We make a minor U-turn. To my surprise, the intersection at Potrero and 23rd is blocked off with various police cars. What is going on! I could feel myself getting tense since I really don’t know the way out to 101 South that well from the other direction.

8:10 am
I can’t believe it. The turn that we just made has forced us onto 101 North. As he drives, I am yelling at myself as we hit horrible rush hour traffic into the city. I apologize profusely and find directions on the phone to get to 101 South. I calmly give directions, but the fury is building inside. 8:30! screams at me. And we’re not going to get there until 8:40 am. We creep along to the 7th Street exit and fortunately the turn to 101 South is on the left right after the ridiculously named AutoReturn—the city’s impound lot. Why make a logo for the most hated system.

8:20 am
“Wait, did you just say 8:50?” I say.
“Yes!” He exclaimed with the sense of calm embodied in his voice. “That’s what I have been saying all this time. We have 30 minutes.”
“No way.” I say with the relief settling through me. “Well, I suppose you got some more experience driving.”

8:45 am
All is well. We are chatting—our usual banter. I casually look to the right checking on the exits. 416…I see. “We’re almost there,” I say. Then I tense. It’s the exit for 3rd street for San Mateo Downtown. Wait, the numbers are decreasing. NO! We were supposed to exit at 417 and I have messed up.
I declare that we have to get to the next exit.

8:50 am
We are doing some crazy stuff at the 92 trying to exit safely to El Camino. I don’t know where I am going but I use the phone to tell me. It seems completely off, but I do it anyway.

9:15 am
I rush him off inside. I notice that he left his phone and wallet. I park the car illegally and rus inside to give him his stuff. Then I come outside to repark the car in a legal space.

9:20 am
I hope that he makes it, but I look at his paper. “Doesn’t it say to wait in line 18?” I say asking why he was standing in line 11.

9:40 am
We have been waiting in line 18 for the 20 minutes. And I could hear people around us rolling in for appointments…at 9:45 am, 9:50 am. We get to the front and he apologizes profusely. “No I am sorry but they won’t let you take the test.” The DMV guy says. “You’ll have to reschedule.” He does…two weeks from now.

9:50 am
“You can do whatever you want,” I say. “I owe you.”

Everyone is given a benefit of a doubt

Within the first minute, you can tell right away. You will connect or sometimes you won’t. The conversation can last beyond the first superficial introduction. Maybe your gaze connects or maybe you are easily distracted (and even encourage it) by noise nearby.

You know.

I, on the hand, rationalize the awkwardness away. Maybe it’s the wrong situation. Maybe something happened earlier. Maybe this, maybe that. I believe that I can dig far enough to discover whether friendship is possible. I keep digging even though signs point to no.

Everyone can be given a benefit of doubt.

But there are the few times—I give it my all. I expose my vulnerabilities for the cool harsh air. I express my happiness, my satisfaction, my emotions freely.

And there are times, I dig and discover that there was nothing, except a beating heart trying to keep up. Pity and disappointment are all that remains. So I turn away with the pressure of that discovery.

I saw a shiny thing and looked

I was describing the bike I just saw, chattering away on my phone. Perhaps yelling even — describing yet again how I walked away from a potential bike because of a feeling of uncertainty. Before seeing the bike, I had came back from a bike ride to Tiburon with Molly. Covered with sweat still with my helmet and hands with bike gloves, I was walking a borrowed bike down Valencia.

“But it seemed to ride fine and I can’t believe—” I said as something fell near my feet right outside The Phoenix.

“Sorry,” a guy mumbled as he leaned to pick it up. It was a shiny gold square packet. In clear letters, it was Magnum XL. The guy scooped it up and kept walking in the opposite direction.

I stopped mid-sentence, processing what I had just seen. I paused and turned around, glancing at the guy. He was beefy—a standard Marina ‘bro of watching football, drinking at least two beers a day, and so young so young.

And he was glancing back at me.

I turned around…waited…and started laughing.

Giving rides

A car I see now is a sign of power and authority.

It’s one of the few things in the world (especially in the city) that can give power and take away power—particularly when giving rides. A potential passenger is so dependent on the driver—having little to no control at all. The driver determines arrival and departure.

Generosity is shown by offering a ride to somewhere—whether it’s close or out of the way. But it can be easily taken away if suddenly a request is denied.

Here is generosity:

“No problem at all,” I say as I drive someone all the way back to the hills of Potrero.

Here is no generosity:

And as the negative feeling creeps in, I say, “No sorry, I don’t have room.”

Need not want.

These are my rules when purchasing items:

  • Do I want it or do I need it?
  • Will this make me happy in 24 hours? A few days? A week? A month? 6 months? A year?
  • Is this a priority in my life?
  • Have I done my due diligence in price comparison?
  • This is often a reason why I walk out so often…empty-handed. It’s often a combination of frustration and relief.

    Which has described my yearlong bike shopping. I am not shopping for a house!

    When overcome by social anxiety…

    I am seized by paralysis. The words want to come out, but they don’t. And I deeply hope that nobody thinks that I am disinterested, snobby or that horrible word with baggage introverted.

    I stand there, perhaps with my arms crossed — not because I am not engaged, but because it’s comfortable. Years have taught me to hold my hands in an unbendable position hand gripping the other — almost feeling like my bones can move in eye-bending ways.

    And my eyes, they flick around the room — in a pause, they settle on a figure. In my mind, I make up stories of their soup of thoughts and goals. Then my eyes move, scanning for the next victim. This continues repeatedly until the meeting is over.

    I don’t want it to be this way, so maybe I smile at appropriate times to blend in. I do as the Romans do in full mimicry.

    But maybe others notice me, shifting in the corner giving an uncomfortable aura. It’s not my intention, but they think of awkwardness and a lack of desire to connect.

    My vice and addiction is sugar

    Despite an ice cream break in the early afternoon and another in the evening, I returned to my apartment suddenly in a fervor to find the same high.

    Initially, I filled it by the chocolate tea — that I had carefully selected from the mind-blowing initial sip at the Chocolate Museum in Cuzco, Peru. But it was not enough after I was staring at an empty wrapper on the ground — remnants of this morning’s chomping of Korean chocolate cookies. I found an artisinal caramel on my desk — unsure what the origin was — perhaps an organic farm part of my locavore packages or a hasty purchase at a candy store trying to prove my hipness. It unrolled easily into my waiting tongue. But it still wasn’t enough, not enough!

    And then there it was. I looked through my cupboards — uncooked rice, energy bars, uncooked sago, teas, soup mix, jello, Italian seasoning…and then I saw it. A box of Twinkies — initially intended for fun with a deep fryer. That was it — and I found myself the next moment discarding a Twinkie that actually had molded and unwrapping one.

    I knew that I was going to regret this — it was like soap, but I ate it. Unsatisfied still.

    Then I remembered my grapes in the paper bag. It was slowly molding, but I picked the good ones that were still green — then I settled back…feeling better now.

    “How do you stay so skinny?” asked a friend who I hadn’t seen for 6 years, hearing my stories of loving loving loving ice cream.

    I mumbled some excuses of how I naturally always had skinny arms and patted my non-existent belly.