Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Mission Boy

Before I tell the story of the Mission Boy, I want to warn you all that my next several posts will probably be about this San Francisco trip. I have taken a bazillion pictures while I've been here, and I want to post things about a lot of them here. Of course, when I packed to come here, I didn't remember to bring the cable I need to download the pictures, so I won't start posting most of what I have to say about this trip until I get back to Seattle. But for now, I can tell you the story of the Mission Boy.

So the other day, I was walking down Mission, which is the main street through one of San Francisco's most bustling neighborhoods. The Mission is home to most of the city's Mexican and El Salvadorean grocery stores and restaurants. It is one of my favorite parts of the city, for SO many reasons. The food, the men, the diversity, the mariachi music, the murals (which I will show photos of later), the middle aged musicians in cowboy hats carrying guitars and accordions down the street... I love it all. So I was walking along, enjoying the warmth of the sun, which had finally decided to break through the San Francisco fog. Then I noticed that a little boy was following close behind me on a razor scooter. I looked back at him, and he grinned at me. He wouldn't pass me. He just kept following behind me. I shrugged and kept walking, forgetting about him, daydreaming about gorgeous, mustached accordion players in silver embroidered cowboy hats. Then the boy started scooting along beside me. We came to a crowded part in the sidewalk, right in front of an open-front produce store, and we both had to stop and wait for some people to move out of the way. It was then that the kid spoke to me. "You dropped that," he said, pointing at a quarter on the ground. "Really?" I asked him. I hadn't heard anything fall. I bent down to pick the coin up, but found it to be super-glued to the sidewalk. The little boy started laughing so hard I thought he was going to fall down. Then I started laughing. "That's pretty awesome, kid. You tricked me good!" He then told me that the produce store belongs to his father, and that gluing quarters to the sidewalk is his way of entertaining himself while his dad works. I looked up and sure enough, there was his dad standing near the front of the store, watching us with a smile on his face. I stood there for another five minutes or so talking with the kid. He was super friendly and playful, and really adorable. I felt happier talking with him than I had felt in a long time, which brings me to a point I want to make about this city. I have met the nicest people in San Francisco. People here have been so warm and friendly, no matter what neighborhood I'm in. I was befriend and hugged by adorable gay men at a drag queen show. An older Russian lady helped me pick out the best kind of food at a Russian deli. A jewelry artist on Haight Street just started walking with Minima and I out of the blue, telling us all about how to find a stone's axis when cutting gems. I find the people here to be more authentic, more spontaneous, and warmer than people in Seattle. Yes, I meet nice people in Seattle, too, but they don't just walk up to me on the street and start saying really nice, interesting, and sincere things to me. In this city, I feel like people aren't afraid, paranoid, distrustful, or cold. I didn't realize that a lot of people in Seattle are those things until spending this week here, and now I want to get to the bottom of it. What's wrong with Seattle? Why do people end up being so cold and isolated in Seattle? Don't blame it on the weather. San Francisco is often covered in cold gray fog for weeks or months on end, so I'm not going to accept rainclouds as a cop-out reason from Seattle.

Oh, and by the way, after I walked away from the Mission Boy, I looked back and saw him telling other passersby that they had dropped quarters. They all fell for it, bent down, tried to pick up the quarters, and then shuffled off quickly, looking embarrassed. The kid just grinned at me proudly when he saw me watching.


  1. As much as I love Seattle, the people here could sure use a pick-me-up as far as their attitudes are concerned. Walking around Downtown or on the Ave is just draining.

    I've never gotten to walk around and explore in San Francisco, but now I can't wait until I finally can!

  2. We talked about this when you were down here, and I think it really does hold true. I've found that a lot of people just "end up" in Seattle for one reason or another, but most people actively migrate to San Francisco. The city of San Francisco is a refuge for all us weirdos. If you're gay, if you're from a foreign country, if you're an artist, if you're a tech freak, if you're anyone who lies outside of "normal" boundaries, you're going to thrive here. People who are misunderstood or looked down on by the general population grow better in San Francisco.

  3. Wow. That makes me want to move to San Francisco. I'm not going to, mind you, but I feel the urge. I've never lived anywhere else but here (Shoreline, which is north of Seattle).

  4. David, we would LOVE to have you. :)