Friday, June 16, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Esplanade

The San Francisco Bay by Burlingame CA is not a really a bay at all.  It is a tidal runoff.  When the tide is high, the pacific winds create the illusion of a choppy scenic waterfront.  When the tide lets out, the water recedes to show the silty bottom and reveal its secrets.  Discarded tires.  A shopping cart.  Rusty remnants of discarded machinery reach out of the muck like metal arms.  However, waterfront is waterfront.  A series of mid and low priced hotels have been erected promoted with fuzzy sunset photos of the water at high tide, suggesting a restful waterfront stay. 

Directly across from the bay is SFO Airport.  One of the busiest in America, planes can be observed rumbling in and out every few minutes from the vantage of the hotels.  A concrete sidewalk runs haphazardly behind the hotels.  Vacant failed restaurant chains sit next to the water.  Small concrete signs proudly exclaim "public shore" encouraging the unlikely scenario of people scuttling on the dirty moss covered rocks at low tide as an actual leisure activity.  The entire area looks like a news footage backdrop with graphics underneath saying "body discovered".  It is not the San Francisco of postcards.

Retirees walk the sidewalk for exercise.  Small uncomfortable looking benches have been placed by city ordinance at intervals.  I walked past a shuttered "Elephant Bar" location and stopped at one of the benches to pet a French bulldog that an elderly man had leashed next to him.  The man stared out at the planes taking off and landing.  I spoke to him as I reached down to the dog.  What's the dog's name?  "Pierre". He seems like a good dog.  "He's pretty good.  Not as good as an Irish setter I had.  Molly.  That was a great dog."

We both watched a 757 defy gravity and sluggishly land more slowly than seemed possible with an object of that size.  "Molly was a great dog.  I was married then.  I used to live up by Livermore.  Good place for a dog."  You live around here now?  "Not far.  Pierre and I come out here to watch the planes.  He likes it."  The man never made eye contact with me.  He stared across the bay at the airport.  Pierre  playfully bit my hand as I grabbed his oversized face.  I made a fist as he gently chewed on my fingers.

There was a silence.  We both now watched the planes as I played with Pierre.  "You got any kids?" he suddenly asked.  No I don't.  How about you?  "A daughter.  She moved away.  I haven't seen her in 12 years.  Daughters will break your heart."  I didn't know that sir.  He grunted like it was evident and the final punctuation mark of our conversation.  I gave Pierre a final pat on the head and walked down the sidewalk.  The man looked out at the bay.  A seagull perched on a tire stuck upright in the silt.  The planes kept landing.  The tide slowly started to come back in.


At June 25, 2017 at 9:14:00 AM EDT , Blogger kk said...



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