Observations at Ritual Coffee Roaster - 7 am
Two men, thick glasses, chinless, identical blue black chinos but very different footwear (cowboy boots v. Chacos) are bouncing their babies in strapped-to-belly packs, waiting for their lattes. Cocteau Twins is bringing back the 80s in my mind, as I start on my own first coffee of the day. A woman in the corner with a briefcase full of paperwork (realtor, lawyer, small business owner?) negotiates with a man, and is interrupted by a phone call which she takes in mid-sentence. "No. Wait 4 minutes." She places the phone face down, without hanging up, on the coffee table between them. As the dads are served they leave together, so for a moment I wonder if they are a couple, though this was not my expectation before. Chacos walks briskly down the sidewalk and cowboy boots climbs into a maroon 4-door Prius, carefully loading his baby into the backseat, and removing the empty coffee cup s/he (black and white stripes indicate no gender clues) has been chewing to pieces for the past 10 minutes.
In front of Afterlife/Blue Fig, on the walk back to Brock's - 7:30 am
A sidewalk garden juts out into a parking space, so that with my elbows on the "bar" and looking left down Valencia I stare through tulle-like bamboo shoots at an oncoming moving van. There are planter boxes full of mossy Japanese garden ground cover, and a symmetrically wispy tiny tree centered perfectly under a metal arch in a perfect semi-circle. A man bounds down the stairs from an upstairs apartment, with his 5 year old, unlocks and rapidly assembles a beautiful cruiser modded into a bicycle built for two, all baby blue. Father and son shoot off towards pre-school/kindergarden.
Brock drives me from Raquel and Cassidy's to the Airport - 11am
Although he was trying to follow me, he got a mile or so behind on 280. I didn't hear the accident but only the sirens and when I call Brock he tells me he just made it off an exit at Hillcrest, and went around the stopped traffic by taking a frontage road. I wonder what would have happened, if I hadn't chosen someone so quick on his feet to drive me? We had time to spare, and I could have just driven myself and left my car at long-term parking for 9 days, but it is much better to leave my car on the street at Raquel and Cassidy's. He catches up with me at Ralston, and helps me move my bags into his car, which has no front feet for a passenger. This is weirdly like limo service, because seated in th back seat I can stretch my legs out, and still keep my big bag in front of me, with my small bag to my side (behind Brock.) We can only stop briefly to talk to Raquel, who will keep my cell phone and keys until Saturday the 30th when I return.
Checking into KLM at SFO - 12am
The airport is as empty as I have ever seen it, but when I clumsily check in my big bag at the counter I discover that a lot of old tickets and baggage claims are in the side pocket of my Camera bag. Before security I throw these away (I have to rip up a receipt from Borrowlenses with my driver's license on it) and manage to lose my boarding pass. I rummage through the trash can, thinking it inadvertantly went with the old passes. I rifle through all my bags, my pockets. I even leave said bags unattended for 10 seconds in order to run over to the bench where I first removed all the old paperwork to be thrown away, but in my rush don't find the boarding pass. I reach the point where I am going to go BACK to the KLM officer who issued my boarding pass and explain that in less than 3 minutes I lost it, when I notice a boarding pass it is just sitting in the middle of the floor near the thread of passengers heading towards security. I sweep it up and confirm that is mine, suddenly nonchalant as if I had never been stressed about the loss. I'm a total fucking idiot.
A discovery in the hour before my departure - 1:30 pm
Not sure why but I find it so reassuring to find my airplane already parked at the end of the skyway two hours before departure. I am writing in view of the bright white-and-blue KLM logo (unchanged even though it merged with Airfrance, since I last flew KLM in 2000.) I google the airplane's name "Florence Nightingale" and learn that itis the last gasp of the McDonnell Douglas fleet, with a top-heavy triple engine design and steep fuel costs. Every airline but KLM has abandoned the tin cans for passengers, either selling them for scrap or keeping them in the fleet only for freight! But supposedly passengers like them…supposedly they're spacious. They're not actually as old as they look, just quick-aging. Remind me to never google an airplane again.