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The Street Will Tell You Stories

Sotano
Listen here:

My strongest and favorite memories from my adolescence were of my solo adventures exploring San Francisco. Not much else stands out from that time. I did all the ordinary dreary things: I went to school, I played sports (badly), I had a few frustrating dates. But what jumps out in memory was the immense joy of slipping away on the bus, leaving the suburbs behind, crossing the bridge over the shimmering bay and then losing myself in the wonderland labyrinth of San Francisco.

I have always sought to be alone among the many. With the abandon that only a true introvert could ever muster, I love to lose myself in the crush of the milonga or the bustle of a crowded subway car. But this is pure whimsy; I am never in danger of really losing myself. Such a thing would be an impossibility.

 But when I wander the streets they tell me stories of the sort I myself like to write: short, sweet and utterly inconclusive — which is to say, a lot like life.

“I have always sought to be alone among the many. With the abandon that only a true introvert could ever muster, I love to lose myself in the crush of the milonga or the bustle of a crowded subway car.”

1.

A man in a bright red track suit jacket that was clearly too expensive and too clean to have ever been used for such pedestrian exertions stood tapping urgently on his cell phone.  He stood beside an early-1980s Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC, a flashy and unusual car to see on the streets of Buenos Aires, though I knew it well from my former life in suburban California where it was the badge of triumphant West Coast joie de vivre. The man seemed anxious. Was he worried that his Friday night might not live up to the bright promise of his carmine track suit and his gleaming Mercedes boy toy?

2.

A pair of leather ankle boots with a side zipper lounged in the middle of the sidewalk. Some sandals, slightly worn, leaned up against a nearby tree. Eventually someone would come, Cinderella-like, and they would fit. Someone, sooner or later, would walk off with them. But in the meantime, they waited, like two demi-mondaines, trying to jumpstart the night.

3. 

Above the bar there is a cloud made of polyester batting. Occasionally the cloud lights up with flashes of lightning. The bar’s name is written in chalk on the wall: “La Tormenta.” People line up beneath the cloud to place their orders oblivious to the storm raging above them.

4.

A man walks into the cafe. He stands in the doorway, looking for someone. A spotlight illuminates his face. He looks exactly like someone who was in the news all week because he had died in some absurd tragedy.  A woman gasps. Then the man smiles, having found his friends, and goes to join them at their table. 

It’s hard for me to put it all together. Life seems a jumble of absurd, random moments with no story arc except that of our own lives. We are born, we observe, we move on. 

Thankfully, we have all these stories to keep us company along the way.

This Little Epiphany is for you.

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3 responses to “The Street Will Tell You Stories”

  1. Silvia Biasioli Avatar
    Silvia Biasioli

    Couldn’t listen to you yet. I am at the dentist’s waiting room. I have just read your epiphanies about what and who you discover in the street and your being alone enjoying these encounters. How beautifully you write about all this. In a way, something similar has always happened to me when I travel , go to milongas and suddenly come across somebody or something. Enjoy so much your art of writing, Kevin.

  2. Tom McCarter Avatar
    Tom McCarter

    I agree with Sylvia. You are lucky to be able to observe the world from your perspective. For myself, I barely pay attention. I am going someplace interesting but i’m not interested in things I might encounter along the way. That said, I did relate to you solo explorations of San Francisco. I have doe similar excursions as an adult. Have you ever checked out the building foyers in the financial district? WOW!

  3. Susan Rogers Avatar

    Such vibrant observations embellished with your commentary at the end of each about our urban habits, quirks, cluelessness, and eagerness to believe in an illusion.
    But your final reflections take us to that universal level you know so well. They simply take the cake.

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