My happiest moments in San Francisco were spent lying alongside RC in her cozy bed, dozy from her Vicodin, watching tv like invalids. We watched The Office and The Sopranos. We also watched a French movie that tracked the course of a terrible marriage backwards, from divorce to first meeting.
Neither of us could understand what the couple’s marriage was supposed to have been founded on in the first place: deep compatibility? Pure animal lust? Love? Love wasn’t telegraphed in this movie the way it is in American movies, with wide-eyed staring, breathy whispers and smiles. Maybe the couple was in love and I just have no idea what that’s supposed to look like anymore.
We walked around in Golden Gate Park which, like a lot of other things about San Francisco, is incredibly pretty in the abstract, but grimy and depressing up close. We walked along a lush forest path, everything extra green and enlivened by the soaking rain that had fallen nonstop for the first two days of my visit.
(Also it was very windy and cold and no one has heat in their houses, I feel obligated to point out!)
Anyway we walked along, smelling the eucalyptus and pine, avoiding eye contact with the grimy people who live in the park (“It’s like an outdoor music festival with no music,” RC had explained earlier). We started talking about how she thinks her exboyfriend never loved her. I eventually got her to amend this to: He never loved her, based on her definition of “love.” From what I know about them, this seems accurate. She said she wished she’d never gotten back together after the first time they broke up.
And I remembered, for the first time in a long time, about how, a couple months into our so-intense-so-fast relationship (I’ll never be that young and trusting again!), William had freaked out and tried to break up with me and I hadn’t let him.
I sat on his lap in the kitchen and deployed the biggest weapon in my arsenal. It was the only weapon in my arsenal, actually. Also it had only just then occured to me. I asked him to imagine me with someone else and, because he couldn’t imagine that, he stayed with me. I wonder whether it should have ended then. I wonder what the past six years of my life would’ve been like.
RC’s relationship totally should have ended the first time it ended, right? Or maybe there’s a purpose to everything she’s suffered since. Does all suffering have to have a purpose? Does any suffering ever have a purpose?
Anyway later we went to a teahouse that had at least forty floridly described varieties of tea on its menu. One had been specially blended for the Dalai Lama. Another was described as being somehow like the thundering hooves of a herd of majestic stallions.
RC sat across from me, dipping green tea cookies into her $6 chai. “I wonder if I’ll ever date anyone again,” she mused.
I got ready to launch into “Don’t be ridiculous, of course you will, and sooner than you think,” but it was late in my visit and each of us had given the other one so many hollow pep talks by then, all the words had been said so I stopped a few words in. I ate a bite of cookie. It was delicious.
“I wonder if I’ll ever love anyone again,” I said.
Then we sat there silently for a while, stabbing our forks into a little puddle of green tea mousse and then into the fudge brownie alongside it. It was an unexpectedly good flavor combination. San Francisco does have the most amazing food.