Greyhound Station Blues

San Francisco is like the Bermuda Triangle. It sucks you in and doesn’t want to let you go. In my case, it’s partly not wanting to go, but there’s been a heck of a lot that was Not My Fault in trying to leave, too.

Amtrak’s been diverted entirely around Colorado this week, and the user-interface problem that bit me when I purchased my tickets on the way in exists in their agent software too: If you ask for a date that’s unavailable due to the train being entirely rescheduled, it nearly silently offers tickets for the next available day — in this case, the 23rd of October, six days from now. I got up this morning at 6:45 to catch the Amtrak bus to Emeryville, caught it, walked up to the conductor and said “Grand Junction, please” and he gave me this look as if to say “That’s really funny. Now where are you really going?”. It turns out that not only was my ticket actually booked for next week, there is no train to Colorado today at all. Return to San Francisco with a full refund, but no path home. C’est la vie. Airfare would have been $500 for a flight today (Less than I expected for a last-minute fare, but still far more than I wanted to spend.) Greyhound it is, so I am sitting in the Transbay station with three hours to spare, having said goodbye to Jem twice today, and now had a chance to say goodbye to Jester, the fellow I spent a fair amount of time sitting next to on Haight Street, hanging out.

I can now say I’ve been to the Castro — nothing special there, but it’s a nice part of town. I guess queer folks just set me to feeling alright, but they’re just folks. The thrift shop there is darn nice, and very very tidy. If I’d had more willingness to spend money today, and a bag to put any loot in, I might have spent more time there. Mexican food where the Castro meets the Mission district is really excellent and cheap. $6 can feed you and get you a beer too, which surprised me. This city is amazingly expensive in some ways. If I hadn’t had a cheap place to sleep, I’d be far more broke than I am now.

This city’s transit system is far more complicated than most, but with a little time staring at the sadly hard to find maps, it’s not hard. I should have looked before I got on the train in, since it would have made my first couple days a lot easier. If you dropped me anywhere in San Francisco now, I could probably tell you where I am and how to get to the nearest train line.

I love that I can identify languages and ancestry so easily. It makes San Francisco a lovely tapestry of people, not just sections of town that are “White”, “Black”, and “Asian” — I listened to people speaking chinese on the bus, hebrew in the coffeeshop. I see signs in Thai, Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English and French. There’s folks from East and West and South Africa, Somalis and Ethiopians and Nigerians and Ghanites. People from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, England, Ireland, Germany. I would find this a far poorer place without being able to sense the subtlety.

The people here are among the most friendly of any large city I’ve spent time in. I’d love to go to Portland to compare, but I really get a good feeling here. I’m not sure how much is tied up in Jem, though. She has a knack for finding good people and lasting connections wherever she goes. It’s a skill that I wish I had.

The trip to Davis rocked utterly. I’ve wanted to meet alexboyo and apollotiger for a while, which I did, and meeting elliotpp was even better than I imagined. I really love that boy. (Yes, Aria has managed to fall in love with a non-camper.)

Transitions from online flirting to flirting face-to-face are at once totally unnerving to me and comfortable. How people are in meatspace, contrasted with their text persona is totally natural to me, especially the inversion of introversion and extraversion. The usually chatty people online tend to be so reserved in person, and vice versa. It makes sense, if you think about that some people thrive on the facial and vocal feedback of others to communicate, and others like to think about their words and consider them, which text allows much more fluidly than slightly more realtime modes of communication. Flirting, though, enters a whole other realm, with cues and counter-cues. It’s not something I do much anyway, so it’s a new and fun thing.