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buy the ticket. take the ride.

November 11, 2008

People always talk about city life like it is somehow more removed from humanity than its rural counterpart.  As though surrounding yourself with trees and having miles between houses is more real than living on top of one another, sharing the same air, brushing skin on the bus, talking talking talking, evesdropping.  Strangers ask me for things everyday.  Can you imagine? 

But for me living in cities has been the closest I have felt to my species.  I have seen strangers do some weird and terrible things intimidating others on buses, dragging people out of stores, screaming obscenities at no one, at everyone.  There seems to be a rawness in cities that you don’t find where people drive cars and live in houses, where there are lawns.  We are laid bare by proximity.

photo courtesy of sfgate

photo courtesy of sfgate

On Friday evening I was on my way to the gym, and I began to see helicopters.  First one, and then two, three, four, seven, all hovering in a wide circle above the Castro.  They were ominous, the bright spotlight on their underbelly reminding me of all those movies where the government has to annhilate large swaths of citizens in order to root out an enemy or establish a quarantine.   I reached Market Street and realized what the helicopters were all about.  Stretching as far as I could see down the four lanes of Market were people walking and holding signs.  The street was totally shutdown, empty busses sat marooned halfway across, abandoned by passengers who had realized that they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  They were marching against the passage of Proposition 8.  They held signs and chanted a little, but mostly it was quiet.  Just a mass of bodies moving on through.  Perhaps rendered speechless by the absurdity of simultaneously electing a black president and taking away the rights of others.  Actually passing a law to change the constitution so that it would descriminate.  It would be absurd if it weren’t so disgusting.  People I’m sure will look back on this and shake their heads in amazement at the endless bumbles of humanity not quite making it those last few miles to grace.

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