HI, everybody —
OMG this week was all screwed up and there was so much busy that it was scaring me and I had to deal with it but the price was that I couldn’t fangirl. NO FANGIRLING this week except for Monday night, to watch the finale of Supergirl season 2 but then I didn’t even get to deconstruct it on Facebook…
that is the busy.
So right now, I’m on the road. I’m in the Bay Area, hanging out in San Francisco.
I haven’t been to this city in a few years, and every time I visit it, I always like the vibe. There’s a lot of interesting history here, and it’s a beautiful part of the country. Not sure I could live here, since I’m more of a country mouse/small city mouse than a big urban center kind of mouse, but as cities go, I always find cool things about San Francisco.
San Francisco is also the site of my coming out, so it has a special place in my history and in my heart.
My coming out moment was an epiphany. And it literally was A MOMENT. Like a thunderclap kind of thing. I was one thing with lots of questions and the next, my world had done a complete 180. It was a “cosmic click,” in which gears click into place in a way they’re supposed to, and suddenly the machine is working the way it’s meant to work.
That’s how it happened for me. And if you must know, I was 19 and sitting at a table with my family of origin at the San Francisco Hard Rock Café, which used to be cool back in the day. It was December, between semesters at college and my family, in its infinite wisdom, decided that we needed to do one more family vay-kay together to California.
That whole trip, I knew there was something that I would find in California. I wasn’t sure quite what it was, but I had a sense of expectation, imperative, and maybe impatience the whole trip. We started in Anaheim and worked our way north until we were in San Francisco. All along the way, I kept waiting for this…SOMETHING that was supposed to happen. But by the time we hit San Francisco (the last few days of our vacation), I was wondering if maybe the weird feeling I’d had was wrong. At least I’d have some other stories, though.
If you ever saw that movie Vacation with Chevy Chase, well, our trip was kind of like that. It’s funny, now, some of the crazy things that happened. Like buying dinner for a woman truck driver and her young niece at a Chinese restaurant in Flagstaff, Arizona.
And camping in the family camper trailer at a campground that was literally on a pier in San Francisco, right next to where the Enterprise was docked, so we had to go past armed military guards to get to the campground, which was actually a converted WWII barracks. The Enterprise was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and the 8th U.S. naval vessel to bear that name. She was decommissioned in 2012, but in the mid-80s, damn right she was active.
Hence the armed military to enter this weird KOA campground right there in her shadow. The bathrooms and showers were in a building that could have been in any movie filmed in the States during WWII and it seemed the plumbing hadn’t been upgraded, either.
And how about when our car — a 1969 Pontiac Catalina station wagon — broke down on that trip in a parking garage in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the Chinese mechanic who towed us to his gas station had to literally go to a junk yard and get a part “kind of like” what we had and he jerry-rigged it to work in that car. And that damn thing worked for the next ten years. That mechanic’s first name was Wing, and my mom sent him a Christmas card for years after that.
And my dad almost got us all shot by the armed guards at the campground because he pissed the cab driver off who brought us there after our car broke down. That cab driver barrelled toward the guardhouse and then did a side skid near it and ordered us out of the car. The guards had their weapons locked and loaded and my mom was yelling at my dad for being a jerk and the cabbie didn’t want any of our damn money and took off. We barely managed to get out of his car. My dad’s crime? He referred to San Francisco as “Frisco.”
That, my friends, is never to be done. Make a note of it.
We took another cab the next morning to go back to see if Wing had managed to fix our car yet. He hadn’t, so we went to go do some other things and that included the Hard Rock Café because back then, as now, I was a total music fanatic and anything music/music trivia related I wanted in on.
So there we were in the Hard Rock Café, and the decorations — music memorabilia — were amazing. I was totally digging it, and then.
A really cute busgirl came over to the table to take drink orders and she came right to me first and she looked right at me. She kind of cocked her head, smiled, and said, “Can I help you?”
I barely managed to order iced tea, because something amazing was happening, something had clicked into place, and I needed a moment. I went to the bathroom and as crowded as that restaurant was that day, there was nobody in the bathroom except me and I remember thinking that it looked kind of like a bordello because the walls were a deep red. I stared in the mirror and said, “I’m gay. Holy shit. I’m gay.” That was IT. The thing that I was supposed to find out on this trip, all the anticipation and strange feelings I’d had that something big was going to happen on this trip coalesced and I swear, it was like a Hallelujah chorus opened up overhead and little cherubs flitted around…
My world completely shifted in a bathroom reminiscent of a bordello in the Hard Rock Café in San Francisco and I had this overwhelming sense of relief that IT had happened — that the strange, unsettling THING that I had been waiting to find out had come to pass. I went back to that table with a completely changed worldview, and everything was brighter and newer and there were things to see that I had been missing.
I couldn’t share it with anybody, since back then it wasn’t something you talked about and I was still trying to figure shit out. This was the beginning of an amazing journey, I just knew, and I needed to find the language to properly express it.
I will say that I went back to college after that vacation a week before classes started and about three days after that, a woman down the hall in the dorm I lived in asked me out.
The movie we went to see?
Yeah. Let’s just say after that, there was no doubt that I.am.so.gay.
And that’s why San Francisco will always have a special place in my heart. And no, I don’t know what happened to that busgirl. I wonder sometimes whether we’ve crossed paths since then and I didn’t realize it. I wish I’d gotten her name. I’d send her a thank you card.
So that’s my special fangirl ode to San Francisco.
Please, feel free to share your own stories in the comments, whether about San Francisco or coming out or some place that will always have a place in your heart, and thanks for sharing if you do so. We all have stories, and each one is a part of our journeys.
Happy Friday and may The Force be with you.