I am lucky enough to be in America. Some days I think I’m here because I was made to feel the wind comb my hair, driving down highways, stopping only to consume cheeseburgers and to watch the sunset smother the skyline golden. Other days, I think it’s to be around fourteen year old writers. Going into high schools and patiently listening to the next generation of speakers offering truths and insights from one of the most powerful countries of the world.
Regardless of why, I have been in San Francisco for two months. Been amongst beautiful drag queens in dive bars; hair pilled as high as ceilings, makeup dragged over shallow cheeks and red stained mouths. Amongst the artists. The filthy, genuine artists; painting murals down side streets and exhibiting in galleries full of the stinking rich. Seen the homeless, curled up in the doorways of banks. And supermarkets. And beauty parlours. Given dollars to old ladies with tired eyes and grandchildren. I have been among the great minds, the city’s finest, the struggling, the longing. Watching Patti Smith rasp at a Sunday morning festival, her voice quivering like an old lady, her body moving like a kid. Seen Joanna Newsom pluck her harp underneath palm trees and flecks of sunlight. I have been amongst the children; the next politicians and beauty queens. Amongst the spitting on side streets, and the fight to be heard. I have heard Mexicans talk of Aztecs gods, rape and food like their mouths were full of truths. I have tasted burritos. Nachos. Enchiladas. Quesadillas. Tacos. Smelt black brooding coffee and piss drenched escalators. I have mapped the city from the top of apartment blocks. Walked it until the muscles on the backs of my legs became tender. I have sacrificed myself with poetry, heard the crying of others who do the same. I have ached to move my bones like Oakland dancers do. I have sat in bars. Under low, dimmed lighting, making out the jaw lines of the faces that surround me. Writing my name across toilet doors, so to remember who I am and just how far I have come to be here.
Rebecca Tantony, Nov.2012