or better yet, in the language of my new home, “Encuentrame en San Francisco”. I don’t exactly know where this story should start, but this works just as well as a beginning.
My name is Linda (Lindita, if you know me like that) and I am a native New Yorker, born and bred in Sunnyside, Queens, just a 15 -minute train ride away from Manhattan. I had lived 30 some-odd years in meager comfort, a city girl, working at a university and making decent(ish) money, when a couple of things happened that led me here. For right now, we’ll just begin with a small snippet that inspired the name of this blog.
Three years ago, I went with a couple of friends to see a psychic. It was just something stupid and fun and this guy was supposed to be good (read: expensive), a “true” clairvoyant who had been recommended oh so many times online. So, we make an appointment and in April, 3 of us head to some Brooklyn apartment to see what the fates have in store for us. We get there and are immediately welcomed by a young, well- groomed, man who ushers us in to a tastefully furnished living room. As he checks off our names and takes our money, we look at each other and sit on the long couch together, chittering and chatting as we´re known to do. When he said “who’s first?” we, like penguins, nestled together until one of us could no longer stand still and she headed upstairs. Now, I don’t know why, but when the “maybe secret” to your future is so close at hand, you kind of don’t want to know. But the young, well-groomed man had already taken our money, so off we went one by one.
In typical Linda fashion, I awaited the looks on the faces of my friends before I traversed those stairs to hear what the future held for me. While I don’t really believe in psychics, I am of the belief that there are forces out there a lot stronger than me, a lot further from my realm of understanding and maybe just maybe there is a shred of truth that might slip out and it might just be something I don’t want to know.
So, down comes our first little penguin with this indiscernable look upon her face. As she begins to tell us a bit of what was said upstairs, the inevitable “next” from above ejects my other friend from her seat. Penguin #1 reads to me from a small notebook, scribbles she had made so as not to forget the $100 words that had slipped from the clairvoyant’s mouth as he puffed away on Virginia Slims. We sat and talked for a few, panning for nuggets of truth in the river of forecasts before her. As we talked about our pasts and of the possible future, Penguin #2 slunk back downstairs looking a bit dejected. Before I had a chance to ask, it was my turn, and I went up those stairs determined to take it in and discard it at will.
As I bounded upstairs with my best defense, a smile, I encountered a small man veiled by a thin layer of smoke. He sits there with a notebook, says hi, and then asks me not to speak as he writes a couple of things down with one hand while the other bears the ever-burning cigarette between two fingers. This is a weird way to start I think while I alternate between shy smiles and blank stares waiting for him to finish. I am awkward if only in my mind. He puts down his pen and starts by saying, “Where’s the ring?” Shit, man, what? I had gotten engaged a couple of months earlier but I am so not a “real” jewelry type of girl. I’m forgetful and disorganized, I lose things constantly and ever since the ring was given to me, being the most expensive thing I had ever held much less owned, it gave me terrible anxiety to wear it. I said “at home”, and he just smiled.
Raymond asked me what I wanted to do with my life and trying to answer as honestly as possible, I thought back to the first and only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, that secret thing that I only admit to myself in the in-between thoughts, a writer, I said and as he turned the notebook around so I could see, he announced in clear, block letters that which I could barely admit to myself.
Think of me as your gay psychic dad he says as he leans in and blows a small puff away from my face: “You’re going to move far away”. This was a total surprise, if you know me, and even if you don’t, there is one thing about my tone, my way of speaking and dressing that defines me and that is my hometown. What do you mean I’m leaving New York, I thought as he leaned in closer and looked at me almost lovingly, “your time here is almost up, so choose a place you see yourself in and tell me”.
I ransacked my brain, trying to locate a memory of a place that I could ever call home and as I tumbled about, I said the only place I could think of, San Francisco. I had been there almost three years before and I loved the feel of the city, the food, the people, the neighborhoods, the hustle. It was the only place, other than NY that I truly felt comfortable in. It was easy in the way NY was easy to me, I could lose myself in the multitudes and find myself in the crowds. There is something to being surrounded by the energy of people who are working, surviving and sometimes even thriving, that mesmerizes me.
Once again, he turned his notebook to face me and in the same bold, block letters, the words San Francisco were before me. He told me to come back and see him in 3 years time, that I would be doing what I should be doing. How could I not agree to those terms? So giving my adoptive gay psychic dad a hug, I bounded down the stairs. Now you know me and those 2 girls discussed, dissected and digested Raymond’s every word. We couldn’t help it, maybe something true, relevant or just plain coincedental would result and we had to be ready. A couple of days later, as a result of dealing with the realities and not the potentialities of life, we plain forgot, or at least I did and I moved on.
Fast forward to three years later, I am now living in Cuenca, Ecuador. I found a great apartment, albeit a little expensive on an Ecuadorian wage, that has an office from which I am writing now. It is cute and I have great neighbors. And it wasn’t until I was telling Penguin #2 about my sweet new place in Edificio San Francisco that I remembered words tinged with the smoke of 3 years ago. A coincidence, perhaps, but in the case that it’s not, you can find me writing away, working for a living and just loving in my little bit of Cuenca called San Francisco.