Monday, February 6, 2012

A Night on the Town

Part I (In Which the Protagonist has a Glorious Night on the Town [and also, just so you know, there won't be a part II]):

Last week my dear friend Alex and I met up at House of Shields in San Francisco's Financial District for some after-work cocktails. House of Shields is a chandelier-y, wood-paneled, airy establishment frequented by attractive suits who need a stopover between the office and a fancy dinner. Every other time I've been there the drinks were bought for me (the perks of being a poor intern at Wikipedia), so I was surprised to discover my meager Greyhound cost a whopping $6 (which, for the record, is about $3 more than I'm used to spending on a well drink). Then I had this fantastic moment of realization where I was all, "wait a second. The price of this drink literally doesn't matter: I made me some money today!" The sad truth is I've grown so accustomed to never having extra dough to throw around I don't know what to do with myself now that I'm earning a modest hourly rate. I've tried twice to buy some quality clothing in order to project an air of stylishness and authority, but I can't justify spending $190 on a sweater. I did, though, happily upgrade from Gilbey's to Smirnoff during my latest vodka purchase at the corner market.

Then we ran into my old boss from Wiki, Jay. The encounter was everything I imagined future encounters for myself to be, wherein I'm a non-awkward adult who thinks nothing of running into people I used to work for, and who can say something totally normal and engaging and not get flustered when the conversation ends just as abruptly as it begins. When we parted ways, I thought back 1.5 weeks to when I still interned at Wiki, and it already seemed like it had happened way too long ago, but instead of feeling sad or nostalgic I kind of just went, "oh, so now I'll be seeing him at bars instead of the office. Huh." And that was that. And I felt wildly sophisticated. And I also had a brief glimpse of the next forty years of my life, during which events and people and situations and run-ins will pile up and twist together and morph into a life so completely foreign to the one I know now that I may as well not even think about it, because it's all going to end so unpredictably that even just trying to puzzle the next week out is enough of a clusterfuck.

At any rate, after our drinks we moseyed through San Francisco's teeming downtown crowds (seriously, they teem) to Spoke Art, a small gallery debuting Tim Doyle's "Surreal Estate" series, in which Doyle has reinterpreted iconic landscapes from some of television's popular shows. The gallery was small, but free beer flowethed, and I'm a huge fan of Doyle's artwork, so I willingly suffered close proximity to so many fancy hipsters for a chance at one of his limited edition prints. Soon, though, with a beer in hand and my unease put to rest by a nearby rendering of the Bluth family's banana stand, I actually started to feel just the tiniest bit like I belonged there. Alex and I stood close to the door, looking at everyone and commenting on how strange it was for us to just be standing there, in a hip art gallery in San Francisco drinking free beer on a Tuesday night, and how we'd scarcely received even a single hostile glance. All at once the situation turned magical. "This is it," I thought, "this is what it's like to start feeling like you've made it." But then if you'll recall my previous post, which actually happens after this one chronologically, you'll start to understand how perilously up-and-down my weekly emotional agenda goes.

So I ended up buying a print of the Seinfeld diner (titled, "The Big Salad"), which a lady at the bus stop an hour later ended up telling me allll about (she went to school right down the street from the "real" exterior used in the show), but not before Alex and I finished the evening with some Thai food at a gloriously random restaurant somewhere in the Tenderloin. When I finally flopped onto my bed that evening, art in hand, and thought about the ad agency, the bar, the gallery, and the restaurant I'd circulated through since I stepped out of bed that morning, I felt incredibly accomplished. Like when I first started college and would leave my dorm room at 1 am to have a late-night burrito at the 24/7 mexican restaurant across the street, mostly just to be able to sit there knowing it was 1 am and I didn't have to get anyone's permission to be doing this and my mom was fast asleep and had no idea that her son was braving the streets of Eugene for a burrito.

So I lay there, feeling dirty from the bus and clutching my art and thinking about how it was only Tuesday night, and everything very nearly fit together into a coherent sort of existence. And it was all terribly exciting, just so long as I didn't let my brain drift too far in any one direction. And now I'm hoping there never comes a time when I'm unable to excite myself just by accomplishing totally ordinary feats.

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