Today earned four stars when it comes to making me smile. It was one of those days where I made a lot of friends, my favorite activity and superhuman talent.
Making Friends Part I: My Morning Run
It all started with a mid-morning run. Halfway through the Pan Handle an Australian chap ran up besides me, said hello and then asked what loop I was doing. I described my 4-5 mile loop and asked if he wanted to join. He said yes and off we went. Conversation was good– we covered the usual topics of work and interests, then dove into a deeper discussion of life and breaking free of the mundane lifestyle that blinds many people to other, happier, healthier ways of living. We both agreed that the work/life rubric of 9-5, or more like 8-8 (let’s be honest, few jobs these days are 9-5), wasn’t for us.
Making a new friend while running was enough to make me smile, but then it got even better once we hit the last mile of our run. Entering back into the Pan Handle, my new friend, Chris, gave every single runner a high five, and at one point he even yelled out jokingly, “Woooo, runners high!” After about the third high five, Chris said to me, “High fives are like ingrained in us– you just can’t pass up giving a high five when someone has their hand up.” He was right– no one in the Pan Handle could resist. Chris must’ve given 6 high fives in the span of a mile.
After my morning run I headed into work and decided it was time to see the chiropractor– my back had been killing me for days. So I quickly popped out of work and headed over to my chiropractor, and it only took two blocks for this city to make me smile.
In front of my chiropractor’s office was a man sitting on the corner having a very serious conversation. “I just want to listen to Slayer all day,” he argued in a distressed state. His imaginary friend just stood there in silence.
Making Friends Part II: Biking Down Market
After work I headed out to the Mission to catch a friend’s poetry slam. As I rode my bike down Market Street, approaching the cluster F*ck intersection that is Powell Station, the road looked clear and I started to ramp up, like I were sprinting in a race, hoping to blow past the pedestrians who seem to not understand that on-coming traffic poses a threat to their safety. But as I was nearly in the clear, the light turned yellow and I decided not to chance it because the flock of tourists, bums, and shoppers had already started to flood the streets.
Once stopped at the light, a cyclist in his mid fifties pulled up next to me and said, “You could’ve made it Courtney! I saw you gearing up there, like you were ready to bomb it down Market.” And so a new friend was made.
We cycled down Market until I veered off on Valencia, talking the whole way mostly about cycling. He was impressed, or maybe shocked is a better word, that I take my rickety bike on 3 hour rides in Marin or do track workouts with it on the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park. He then proposed that I get a new (or real) road bike and join his cycling team on rides. I would love to do this, but he’s right that perhaps a new bike is in order before that goes down.
One Last Smile
After my friend’s poetry slam, I rode back home through The Wiggle. Winding through the Lower Haight, a cyclist behind me kept on shouting out random, indiscernable things. I assumed he was on the cell phone (a dicey, yet uncommon, feat among city cyclists). But once he passed me, I realized that rather than being skilled at cell phone-cycling, he was probably just weird ….. and maybe touch crazy.
Hunched over his bike, knees bowed, and cycling on too low of a gear, the cyclist glanced over his shoulder and grinned at me with his handle-bar mustached face. His posture and devious smile reminded me of the opening scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house is caught in the tornado and her aunt transforms into the Wicked Witch of the West, cackling and grinning in the wind. I’ve included a clip of that transformation below to aid in the visualization of this ridiculous scene:
We’re Not In Kansas Anymore… (start watching the clip at 2 minutes)
Now that you’ve got this image firmly implanted into your brain, swap out the green face, add a curly mustache, remove the cape but keep the black garb to stay in line with the hipster clad, and shrink the size of the person to resemble a little wily Scottish-looking man. Got that? Good. That sight was enough to make me laugh, but just wait, it gets better.
So this Wicked Witch-middle-aged Scottish hipster hybrid cruised by me and turned the corner. A few seconds later I turned the corner and had a close call with a skateboarder skating on the wrong side of the road, in the bike lane, wearing all back. It was 10:30pm– bad decision on his part. I was soon reunited with the cyclist when we both stopped at a red light at Scott & Oak St.
Upon this reunion he turned to me and said in an excited, crazed tone, “I nearly hit that roller skater!” referring to the skateboarder. He then continued to tell me that once he was cycling in Golden Gate Park and a roller skater hit him, knocking him off his bike and breaking his arm.
The light turned green and off he went with fury, leaving behind a trail of his life story and a ridiculous sight: hunched over, knees bowed, cycling on too low of a gear, and a curious grin spanning across his handle-bar mustached face. Ridiculous.
This city makes me smile every day.