Thursday, January 18, 2007

Friends and the New Year

My two best friends in the entire universe visited right after Christmas and stayed for the New Year. We have known each other for almost 10 years now (they have known each other for more than 20) and we just click and mesh. I can't imagine my life without them.

Wendy is in ethics, writing content for websites intended for employee instructions on company policies. Ruth runs the Office for the Arts at Memorial Hall at Harvard University.

Wendy is a writer and has some amazing scripts, mostly plays, but some manuscripts as well. Ruth is a poet (soon to be published) and has just found her amazing gift only a little over a year ago. I could not be more proud and more in love with these two amazing people. Too bad they're women and I like men.

They arrived Thursday night, after a long journey from the East Coast. I waited by my bedroom window, looking, hoping the next set up headlights would be theirs... and finally it was!

Richard, a long time friend of Ruth's and Wendy's from the old theater days at the New Ehrlich in Boston picked them up at the airport. Some of the best stories come from those days, let me tell you. What people do for art, it is truly a work of love to work at the theater. Being an actor is one thing, being a theater manager is something completely, all together different. It takes your body, and the breadth and depth of your soul to run a theater. They say actors give a little piece of themselves for each performance, but I assure you, you can see, over there - stage left, the body parts of the stage manager, costume designer, and lighting director.

They arrive and I run down, missing a few steps along the way and we give each other hugs and kisses. It felt like I just saw them the day before, even though it has been almost a year! Oh how I miss them.

Richard, after saying his goodbyes, headed home (it was almost midnight) and planned on coming back the next morning to give the famous, and infamous, Richard Freeman tour of San Francisco.

Ruth, Wendy and I drag the suitcases up four flights of pressure treated decking stairs (outside) to plop the suitcases in the livingroom and sit outside on the deck, enjoying the nice nighttime air, and we talked and talked and talked about all that is frivolous and all that is important.

Ruth talks about her work and poetry, Wendy also tells us her latest work and relationship hurdles and I discuss my new life in San Francisco and what it has meant to me. Then at 12:05 am we retired... actually more like 1:30 am because I remember commenting it was like 4:00 am for them!

Friday morning arrives and we have our toast, yogurt, fruit and orange juice and Richard arrives for the first leg of our journey. First stop, twin peaks. I look at them from my office every day, but have actually never gone up to take a view from above. It is spectacular, as you can see from the photo. It is a great way to see how the city is laid out and where each neighborhood is, truly great first stop.

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks, looking east.

We then head over to Ocean Beach (the same name of the Martha's Vineyard Beach that we go to every year together!) and let Wendy touch the Pacific Ocean. We walk a little and then hop back into the car to stop at an overlook of Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fabulously sunny day, just perfect to enjoy the sites.

Wendy in front of Golden Gate Bridge. To the right is the Marin Headlands.

Oh yeah, Wendy has a video camera and she is great at narration while filming, so while we are driving across "the bridge", we give our facts about the bridge. Surprisingly the truth was not that far off. Construction began in 1933 and was completed in 1937 for a cost of under $35 million! It is still the 3rd longest single-span bridge in the world, 4,200 feet. The two main steel towers rise 746 feet from the ocean surface, and their piers sink more than 100 feet below the surface. The bridge carries more than 40 miilion cars a year and the piers (which the towers stand on) have to withstand a tidal flow of more than 60 mph twice a day. Now that is a bridge.

We drive past the Marin Headlands and head over to Tennessee Beach, a lovely and secluded area just beyond Sausalito. But before we reach the beach, we pick up another friend from the theater days, Gaila. Everyone says their hellos and gives their hugs and kisses and then we head over to the beach.

Wendy, Richard, Ruth and Gaila

The pond above the beach was overflowing from recent rains and it has created a stream that eventually succumbs to the ocean, cutting off access to the beach. But the spirit and desires of the people have created little rock bridges to get over to the beach. The cliffs are spectacular, eroded by the elements to a point of looking like great buttresses of a gothic church, beautiful.
Tennessee Beach

After debating about what was flying above (hawk or turkey vulture - Gaila was right, it was a turkey vulture) we walked back to our car and had a nice lunch at a place that looks like a dive but ended being delicious food, but don't ask me the name, I have forgotten.

We say our goodbyes to lovely Gaila (who I forgot to mention has also started writing poetry of her own - lovely) and head back to San Francisco, with full stomachs and even fuller souls.

Richard continues our tour, including a drive down Lombard Street and a drive up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, wonderful as always.

Saturday we decide Wendy should take a ride on the cable cars (Ruth has been to SF many times), so we head over to Powell Street to catch the cable car to North Beach, to the deliciously chocolatey place known as Ghiardelli Square, or as Wendy calls it, Mecca! We walk around the neighborhood and have our soup in a bread bowl and then off to Mecca... can't you just smell the chocolate?

Saturday night we go to Paul K near the Civic Center of SF. Richard works there and is famous for his explanation of what they have for dessert. You almost want a cigarette after those descriptions. Each of us had a different plate of entrees and we were all wowed by it. The duck was the most delectable I have ever had in this world, it is the chef's signature dish and it shows. Speaking of signature dish, the chef is hot... I asked to have him for dessert, but he was too busy to oblige.

Sunday we went to the new de Young Museum. It is in my favorite part of the city, Golden Gate Park and it was, yet again, a perfectly blue-sky day. This time Richard's husband Sean came along. It was nice to spend time with him, as well. We had fun looking around the museum, seeing all the art, young and old.
One of the exhibits at the de Young. The shadows are Richard, Sean, Ruth and Wendy

My particular favorite is their Polynesian and East Indies galleries. I think they have done such a spectacular job at designing the space and displaying the artifacts... it almost envelopes you in the warm wood tones... go and see and feel for yourself.
The de Young Museum. Opened in October 2005.

Yes, you are right, Sunday is New Year's Eve, so shouldn't we have some wonderfully embarrassing stories about drunken debauchery... ok, here it is, we saw the glow of the fireworks behind the buildings and trees in front of us and we ate chocolate out of the box, how's that for ringing in the new year!

Monday, Ruthie spent the day at Richard's studio (did I mention Richard is a famous painter, his artwork is showcased at Paul K's) and Wendy and I went to Chinatown. Just as an FYI, the best place to go anywhere in the world on New Year's Day is Chinatown. It was the only place in San Francisco that was happening on New Year's Day. We went to the fortune cookie factory (not all it's hyped up to be) and walked all around Chinatown and went in and out of every shop on Stockton and Grant Streets, including my favorite, the Wok Store on Grant. If you are looking for beautiful fabrics, go to Chinatown.

Wendy and I get back and meet up with Ruth and we eat at a nice place on Market... think I can remember?

And before I knew it, it was Tuesday morning and time to say goodbye. I braved a smile and gave long hugs, turned around, went upstairs and cried, no, whaled from the emptiness of my home. Only minutes ago my living room was alive with joy and comfort, alive with laughter and warmth, alive with care and love.

Ciao my friends, I count the days to when I am able to be with you again.


Anonymous said...

seems u had a very nice time at San Francisco with your lovely friends... i liked the photos from San Francisco, that you have posted here... i believe friends are like angels on earth with whom u can share the best moments of your life... well u can sometimes drop by My Friendship Blog and have a glimpse of something u may find interesting...!!!

Arjay said...

Great story! I'm glad to hear that you have some very dear friends in your life. Take care.