1390 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

Sitting out on 1390 Market Street Plaza two Sundays ago reminded me of the many times I have walked Market. I also could not help but think of my friend Maseilla. See, she lived off Market down near the Castro, and I rode the F-Market there often. I preferred the F to any of the other underground Munis because it usually allowed for a slower and more reflective ride, except when it was packed chock full of tourists ( but, I was them once). The F was also the one that got me the closest to the house of my friend, and was always a better choice if it was dark outside or if I didn’t want to walk far. On the nicer days the N-Judah suited me just fine because it allowed me the luxury of being dropped off next to Duboce Park which lay at the bottom of where Noe Street meets Duboce. Oh but I digress…On assignment from my Creative Inquiry class, I had planted myself at the plaza and just enjoyed the sun on my skin. We were partnered up on assignment to observe how we were aware of our surroundings. We were to make lists and then swap the lists and produce something creative with the other person’s list. Though our lists were pretty similar as far as the main characters go, what we observed about each character was often different. This outcome below is what evolved from my partner Debby’s list. However, it is not free from my own observations either.

“It’s a beautiful day outside,” she says to me
I wrinkle my nose.
“I don’t like to be cold.”
“Let’s check it out,” she presses
“Oh alright!”
“You can have my jacket if you get cold,” she adds sealing the deal.
Indeed it is a gorgeous day outside with sun shooting yellow and gold rays off all the edges of those tall buildings on Market. With sounds of the F Market strolling along and the whish whoosh of the Muni on sky-wires, looking like puppets, I settle in one of the chairs on the 1390 Market Street Plaza.
“If we sit in the sun, you’ll be warm,” she says interrupting briefly the concerto my ears were beginning to adjust to.

“How are you ladies doing today?” I stiffen as I see the direction this conversation is headed.
“No, we do not have any money.” I hear her state firmly
I wonder if we look like easy targets.
Before I can fully settle in, a dog drags its owner out and pees almost before clearing the pavement beyond the steps. The stench abuses my nose destroying, for a brief second, the gentle breeze cooling the burn of the sun on my face.

Two men walk down the steps and my attention is diverted again. They slip under the obviously do-not-enter space portioned off with yellow caution tape. Oops butt crack! His pants are too low, and barely hugging the non-existent hip. Fashion statement or victim of his circumstances? They smoke. I make social commentary in my head…how do people mange to feed an addiction while begging for spare change for coffee?
Argh! Who am I to judge?

A line-up of bicycles come into my line of vision. They fascinate me. I don’t know how to ride a bicycle, yet, my friends add as they all volunteer to teach me. Watch me the riders seem to say showing off. One standing the bike upright on its back wheels. Another, not pedaling yet somehow moving forward.

Is it really Sunday? It seems like these buses never stop. Although I bet they won’t run if I needed to go someplace. The F Market seems trapped at the light, stopping to give a nod of acknowledgement to the oncoming trolley.

What if we all did that?

For all its noise, dirt, and odd characters, the people on the street pass each other in relative silence as if overwhelmed by it all and thus unable to contribute their alto to the hymn.
“We should be heading back,” she says
“Lets be sure and not step in the pee,” I say
We both laugh
1390 Market Street will always call up that memory after today.

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