It wasn't till I went to Assisi that I realized I'd once lived in a town named after St. Francis. I miss those days. 2nd grade, a block from the Hayt, living in one large house. We would play in the park nearby, me and my brother, with Bob Hardy taking care of us. Sometimes another guy would take us up to Telegraph Hill nearby to play Pass the Whisper. My mom, me, and my brother Seth would look out over Alcatraz, or visit Golden Gate Park to see The Thinker and the Japanese Tea Garden. On New Year's Day we would go to China Town to get watch the parade. I got my first Christmas Tree ornament there, an ornamented red elephant.
Bob loved it there. He was pretty built and good looking, and gay guys would follow him home on his jogs on occasion. They would stay a few days in the commune, until they realized what we were on about. Then they would escape out a back window as quickly as possible. I have driven through on the One, but haven't been back since.
Today I returned, to see some of what I once new. I am thankful to Anne for this opportunity. It is truly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, and I have seen many. There is a certain architectural style that is simply, always San Francisco.
But it has changed, too. I saw plenty of guys holding hands- this looked pretty normal for me- it's standard fare in Morocco. Actually, what most suprised me was seeing male/female couples holding hands as they walked down the street. A new modern art museum in Golden Gate Park- quite beautiful, with strange sculptures that play shadow puppetry with the walls, reminding me of the Crystalline Entity from Star Trek. The Thinker has been removed- but perhaps from my memory. I remember it in the Park. The Japanese Tea Garden still beautiful, but you have to pay now to get in.
Too late, after we've left, on another day, I remember I was baptized in Golden Gate River, in the middle of the Park. We could have visited there. My dad baptized me, asking me if I believed in Jesus as God, and if I always would. I responded that I did, but couldn't say if I would always- after all, who could know. Next time, I must visit.
This day, I got to see what an incredible dancer Anne is. She regularly gets out for all kinds of dances, especially Swing and Contra. I was sad for her, to have to endure my paltry steps, but was quite glad to see her in her natural element, doing one of the many things she is excellent at. I had been quite disappointed to miss out on Swing at GWA when there was a party, as I do love dancing, so it was wonderful to be able to get out there an dance, just a little. We even got to do some modern dance and hip-hop at the end.
There were a number of gay couples there, making it confusing when they said simply "The Leader" rather than "the guy"- I couldn't tell who I was supposed to be emulating. Reminded me of Lewis' rather weak argument against women in leadership- it was practical, but, quoting Jane Austin, not nearly so much like a ball. Though I still disagree with his argument, I for the first time saw the importance of the gender difference in the middle of a dance.
Afterwards we found a great restaurant, Tajine, in San Francisco. There is Moroccan food, and there is Moroccan food. Most of the Moroccan food here in the States gets more expensive. Tajine is reasonable- a little on the high side as compared to a Moroccan sit-down restaurant, but not much. And the food, scrumptious and authentic. None of this lying down on cushions, which frankly they do only in Moroccan homes and the fancy tourist restaurants. Sitting on chairs, as we do there. No Dr. Pepper thank you- only Coca. We had harira, the Moroccan bean soup served at the end of Ramadan, and then a Tajine dajej muqalli- chicken stew without water, kind of. The kind I always had our maid, Zahara, make for us when she came once a week, with preserved lemons and olives- very well done. But even better here, as the olives were pitted. We ate with our hands, as is the style in Morocco, with the left hand in the lap, and endeavoring to stay in our lane in the common dish. My theory is that there are two kinds of societies in the world- those that stay in their lane on the road, and those that stay in their lane in the dish. Never the twain shall meet. I explained to Anne about how that was the tradition, to eat only the food in the dish near you, and that it is very shameful to eat from the other side, using a Joha story. Joha is a wise fool, an every-man, sort of like the Brer Rabbit tradition in the Southern U.S.
One day, Joha from Morocco had dinner at the house of Joha from Algeria. And Moroccan Joha saw a juicy piece of meat on the other side of the dish. And he thought and thought, how can I get that piece of meat? And he came up with a thought. So he told Algerian Joha, "You know, the world is in an awful mess. If I were God, I would take the world, and change it all around, like so." Saying this, he picked up the Tajine dish, and turned it all around, now with the juicy meat next to him. Now Algerian Joha saw this, and he thought and thought. Then he had a thought. "Ah, but you are not God. So the world is like thus." And he returned the dish to it's original location.
This is why I believe a Moroccan can never marry a Japanese person, with one of those round twirling dishes.
We followed the Tajine with a sugar chicken pie, one of the best dishes Morocco has to offer, Pastilla. Mohammed, our server and I believe the owner of Tajine, was incredibly kind. We had a good conversation in Dareeja, and he comped us the mint tea we finished with. Anne was shocked at how sweet the tea was; I thought it a trifle on the bland side, but standard for Moroccan tea. The entire meal ended up being only 350 dirham ($35)- probably about 130 dirhams more than you'd pay in Morocco at a sit-down restaurant. Although the food was great, even better was the excellent and friendly service. Tajine is the finest Moroccan restaurant I've been to this side of the Atlantic.
And then, I had to say goodbye to Anne, as I headed down with my dad and brother, who I'd not seen in a year and three years respectively, down to my brother's house in Long Beach. But that's a story for another day.