After 9/11, my industry collapsed. Was working as a technical writer (writing software manuals) in NYC while playing music in the jazz clubs downtown. Feeling like I’d already failed at life, with everything I loved collapsing around me, I moved in with my folks in Boca Raton, Florida.
After I’d given up everything else, I got myself a job as a barista at Borders on 441. They didn’t want to hire me for the music or books section because I didn’t know a single thing about the books or music normal people bought.
Two months later, a beautiful girl showed up and got a job as the second barista. The fist day I trained her on the machines. We were flirty.
I said “let’s run away to San Francisco.” She laughed and said I was insane; we’d only just met.
A few months later, we packed her car and drove cross-country to move to San Francisco.
But dating as adults while we both lived with our parents was a bit weird. We found these amazing old beachcomber motels. She’d bring her portable record player and some Hank Williams LPs.
We weren’t having an affair, but there’s something seedy about these places—less drama, but conjuring an image from Jarmusch’s “Mystery Train,” a very underrated film I’d always loved. As the light pushed in through the curtains in the morning, one of us always had to go to work and make the lattes.
In San Francisco we rented a great apartment on the first floor of a busy street around Union Square. Up and down the hills. The fog. The old dive bars in the Tenderloin with great, absurd jukeboxes.
We broke up; she returned to Florida. I stayed in San Francisco, and that’s when things started to get a lot more fun. Moved to North Beach, and then finally to a great place above a bar in the Mission. There was something so special about those couple of blocks at that time.
Anyway, this was just a snapshot that popped into my head. I’ve had a fairly interesting life. At least it’s been unpredictable. For better or worse, I’ve never had a vision of how my life would go, how I’d end up, or what would happen.
Perhaps this indicates a real deficiency, and that would be true, too. Would’ve been a lot better to’ve just planned and followed a schedule, in some ways; would’ve been less entertaining in others. Regrets? Maybe, maybe not.
You can’t turn back the clock.