Around five, I drive to meet Mark at a restaurant in San Francisco. I chose to go across the Golden Gate Bridge despite a third phobia of mine – a fear of heights. This fear I discovered the hard way when I walked with Mark and some friends across this same bridge for a charity event. I had walked barely a third of the way when I looked down at the water. A dizzying fear took hold. I grabbed the railing and didn’t budge for fear of falling, or as crazy as it sounds, jumping to my death. The rest of the group passed by unaware, as did Mark, who kept walking without me.
Unable to move, I remained in a catatonic state for too long. Until a partially-blind woman with a service dog passed and recognized my quandary. She took my hand. And with a few caring words, she assisted me across to the other side. My fear of heights is less scary in a car. Still, today in rush hour traffic, I’ve white knuckled it all the way. The Presidio Social Club is easy to locate. I haven’t eaten here before, so I wasn’t aware that the restaurant is an ex-military barracks. I’m glad that I wore jeans, a polka dot shirt and a bomber jacket.
Rather, than my thrift store black dress and Emese’s designer coat. I spot Mark seated in a booth in the corner. I bypass the hostess and walk straight to him. Before I can settle in, the waitress arrives. Mark suggests two craft beers. Once our server leaves, right away, I say the obvious. “You’ve transformed yourself. ” Mark flashes a grin, and replies, “You could say that. For starters, I returned to school and graduated with an MBA. ” “That’s unbelievable. ” “Yeah, considering I had a problem with authority figures. But I ran into some luck and finally got it together. He gives a brief account of how all this happened.
And then, before I can ask more questions, our server returns with our beers. Rather than wait, we order the two Presidio Social Club classics: macaroni and cheese with herbed bread crumbs, and meatloaf with green beans, and mashed potatoes. When the server takes our menus and leaves, Mark and I taste each other’s beer. His has an earthy caramel and orange flavor. Mine is more complex with a hint of coriander, lime and malt. Both are refreshing. I sit back in the booth comfortable. Until, Mark asks, “So tell me.
Are you married, single or uninterested? ” I smile amused by the last option. “I was engaged for a while to a film producer I met at the studio, but I got cold feet. ” “Sometimes that happens. ” Then wistfully, he says, “I’m sorry I had been such a lousy boyfriend to you. ” “Apology accepted… We were so young. ” “We were, though, not an excuse for bad behavior. In any case, your move to L. A. appears to have worked out well for both of us. ” I have to agree. He finishes his beer, and asks, if I’d like to swing by his house later. Sure, I’d love to see where you live. ”
It’s nearly seven o’clock before we leave the restaurant. I follow Mark to Haight Street, where we park our cars. The neighborhood has improved. Hip restaurants and shops have settled in replacing the old. Yet, the bohemian nature Mark and I loved remains. I search for the tattoo shop, where I had flowers painted on my face with henna, for a Halloween party at Vivian’s. I ask Mark if the store is still there. “Yep, with the same owner, and business is booming,” he says, and takes my hand. We walk past rows of colorful Victorian homes and stop at a cobalt blue, two story one. Here we are,” he says.
I follow him up several stairs to a porch, where he unlocks the front door, and we enter. Inside, the living room is exquisite with fully restored oak floors, and bay windows. He shows me around the two bedrooms and marbled tiled bathrooms. We end up in the kitchen where I’m swept away with melancholy. This is the house we once envisioned one day for ourselves. Only, at the time, we were flat broke. I tease, “Did you rob a bank or what? ” “Let’s just say, I saw the future” His remark leaves me clueless as to its meaning.
So, I let go of trying to figure it out, and scour the room for photographs of a wife or kids. There’s none, so I ask, “Do you live here alone? ” “Yeah,” he says, and tells me to look around, while he gets us something to drink. I return to the living room and admire a mix of Victorian and hip furnishings, that includes a mink brown sofa. He must have hired a decorator. The room’s decor is impeccable. “If you’re available this weekend, I’m driving to Mendocino for business. I’d love for you to come with me. It’ll be like old times,” he says. I’d love to join you, but I can’t. ”
“Don’t worry, we’ll have separate bedrooms. ” I raise my eyebrows. His assumption that we’d hook up is ridiculous. When you consider, our sex life had been lukewarm at best. Though, I am curious to know what his business is. But I hold off any further questions, when he reappears with a bottle of liqueur, two glasses and a plate of brownies. “Try one I baked them myself with all organic ingredients. ” I’m hesitant since I drank two beers at lunch. Even so, I grab a whole one with the caveat, “I haven’t gotten high since we separated. ”