Last night's Hornblower cruise left the Berkeley Marina about 7:30 in the evening. It had been raining earlier but now a light mist fogged my hair and glasses. Eleven of us would be joining about 70 others from our San Leandro sister facility for a big city dinner cruise and thrilling one foot swells by Alcatraz Island. A belated, mostly casual holiday party.
Bay water is ominous. The stern's floodlights searched for bloated bodies in the swirling foam. Seagulls stroked above the murk, passing us in the dark as we pointed our 75 foot vessel toward the Bay Bridge. Dividing our time between sitting at round tables inside the second deck and visiting the fore and aft decks, we filled the night with people sounds.
We sailed under the Bay Bridge, around Treasure Island, back under the bridge then west along the Embarcadero and Pier 39 towards the Golden Gate Bridge, which was unlit because of the terror alert status. Guess they would rather have the fully lighted city and Bay Bridge as targets.
San Francisco's skyline sparkled like cheap diamonds. We were out too far to hear the horns honking, the screams of people being beaten and stabbed and robbery gunshots. Everything seemed so peaceful --- so serene --- so wonderfully perfect.
I lived in San Francisco for four months in 1964. I was the proverbial pre-Christian in Vanity Fair. The sights, sounds, smells, and mood of the city were bittersweet attractions. Fledgling flight, fragile at best, ended with failure of funds, failure in love and failure in the crash dummy test. Leaving my heart below Mt. Davidson's cross where I lived for that short time on Evelyn Way, I sometimes think of the best parts of my visit: friends, English shortbread, and learning never to call soil, 'dirt.'