I woke up arriving at the San Francisco airport. My breath still characterized by the smell of acetone from an excessive amount of screwdrivers from the night before my 6.00 a.m flight from NYC. All paid with my dead-end accountant wage. Last thing I remember before taking off was a raven blocking my sight of the New York skyline, but my urge to rip it apart seems distant now.
In SF airport I dragged my body outside, and as the first thing waved at a cabdriver. He stopped and the driver asked me where to, to which I replied, “just the centre.” The driver introduced himself. “Hi, I´m Scallion” His hair and skin approved the name. “Welcome to Sylvia!” he continued. He apparently named his cab. I repeated the gesture, “Jeff McClenna.” Scallion hinted that I was not from town and suggested to be my guide for the day. I approved in lack of better.
I was given a tour which began in Castro Street which flowed with rainbow patterns, amongst men wielding water guns which ejaculated towards the air in the epicentre of some parade, which contained no creatures of Venus. The freedom of these men seemed a distant privilege. Before moving on, my new acquaintance and I went for lunch in a small Italian restaurant named The House of Original where Scallion said, “here, my friend, La pasta de Lorenzo.” My first Italian meal and it was nothing like my usual pork and white potatoes.
From there, my new acquaintance took me to a place I´ll soon forget. The smell of Italian garlic soon evaporated and was replaced by another herbal scent. Haight-Asbury, sharing the same exceptionally liberal atmosphere as Castro, was decorated by small groups of peacocking hippies hanging out in front of colourful local shops. Never had I seen anyone smoke a joint. No smoke had ever interfered with my lunges. In fact, Wall Street was more fast and hazardous, but I liked the turtles. Graffiti was a dominant art here and a big painting of a hummingbird caught my eye and ear.
In this street, the hub of the summer of love resonated the sounds of a band whose name spoke of a happy death. Scallion guided me through the masses of dancing bodies which had come to escape from an old country. I felt like a trespasser in this environment but my steps into this crowd kept resonating ‘come in we’re open’. An openness of love, of solidarity, a distant familiarity which the towers of Wall Street had choked out of me.
The detachment from my family became a regret. To lay off emotions of sympathy and empathy to make those crucial business deals, was a mistake. Instead I was now attached to the electrifying power cables of San Francisco. My encounter with this the alchemist had prolonged my life and Thomas Jefferson’s famous statement of pursuit of happiness is for me no longer the pursuit of riches but the pursuit of community.