I’ve been living in San Francisco for nearly two months now and though I only hopped across the bay I’ve noticed a striking difference. This city’s got character, or rather, characters, ones I never thought would’ve rivaled the personalities that comprise Berkeley’s charm. Witness the man who enters the Washington Mutual in his military regalia, lambasting the mistaken absence of the English language from the automated teller (“I’m an American, not a Mexican!”); the man at the bus stop, dressed to the nines in a sharp gray suit, eyes vacant, back hunched, straw cowboy hat over head, stuffed orange tiger under arm; a woman’s territorial hostility at 8:00 a.m.; a man’s incessant handshaking at 8:30—caricatures who have come to life, at once surreal and tangible. All mere flakes from the surface of this metropolitan sprawl. I’ll scratch a bit deeper and see what else I find.
The recent college graduates are dispersing. Some are off to new jobs, others to new schools for even higher degrees and the few that remain, though close geographically, will drift worlds away. This is the nature of things. The summer’s over and everyone has to say good bye. And with each farewell comes the familiar promise more easily dispensed than kept: “I’ll call you. We’ll keep in touch.”
At what point in time did it become compulsory to follow partings with this signal of eventual disappointment? We’ve all said it at least once with the actual intention of following through, we say “yes, I will talk to you again,” only to get caught up in the daily grind and forgetting. On the other hand, we’ve also all said it multiple times fully knowing that there’s no chance in hell that it’ll happen. We lie, and we do it to dull the social severance.
I’ve had to dole out my share of little lies. Like many of my friends, I’ve moved away and started a new job, so I had to say my thanks and farewells to former roommates and co-workers. In a few months time I’ve grown quite close with some of these people, but there’s still the unfortunate reality that I likely won’t ever come across or speak to them again. Yet, I said my “I’ll-call-yous” and promised my “don’t-worry-I’ll-come-visits.”
Only one of these people came right out and said it: “Come on Irene, you know we won’t see each other again,” and I wished I was as forthright as he. But I didn’t want to believe it. I like to say things and mean them, but for most situations it’s just not realistic to do so.