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Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Wish I Had Been Warned

We took a trip to the west coast a few weeks ago.  We had previously seen the greenest of green in the mountains of Oregon and enjoyed the deep blue waters of the coast.  This time we spent time in Northern California.  The giant trees of Humboldt County left us awestruck and the sound of the ocean waves were often deafening, reactions that we expected.  Nobody warned us about the city.  Nobody warned us about San Francisco.  It is a city that took us both by surprise.  Admittedly I was not looking forward to the city part of our vacation as much as I was looking forward to communing with nature.  People had told us that San Francisco is not like any other city.  But they hadn’t warned us about it being a city that truly has something for every personality, every race and every religion.  We weren’t warned that in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it is easy to find natural sanctuaries of trees and flowers, quiet places.  We also weren’t warned about how friendly the people of San Francisco are.  The cab driver who shared the Reader’s Digest version of his life in 10 minutes and his love for the city; the people who helped us get pointed in the right direction on the public transportation.  These were some of the many of the things that people didn’t warn us about. 

There was a sense of sadness when we left that city to come home.  In conversations about our vacation, I have expressed my desire to live there.  I have talked about it with more enthusiasm than some people are interested in and I can see the boredom in their eyes.  Those who have visited the city and loved it, enjoy hearing about it once more.  It brings back memories for them and they share in the excitement once more.  There are also people who listened intently to my vacation ramblings and feel it necessary to warn me about the sins of the city.  I want you to experience with me some of these questions:

Person A: “You do know there are a lot of gays there, right?” 
Me: Yes

Person B: “Do you think you would be alright living in a city with so many gays?”
Me: Unless this is contagious, yes.

Person C: “Aren’t there a lot of gays there?”
Me: Yes, but there are also tourists.

I have been warned of the perils or rather, the one peril of San Francisco.  The things I wish someone would have warned me about?

…the homeless woman swimming in the cold ocean waters in the evening to bathe
…the homeless man sitting against a wall behind a bush shooting up
…the homeless man walking ahead of us with all his belongings in a bag and 
the thin layer of sandals on his blackened ankles and feet.
…the homeless woman sitting against a wall crying and talking to herself

So, did I see any gay people?  Perhaps, and if I did… what I saw were two people who deserve to love and be loved.  I would much rather have that imaged stamped on my mind than an image of people who for whatever reason have no place to lay their heads and no one willing to embrace them.

I wish I had been warned….  

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