(Apologies, readers. Was doing some clean-up and accidentally sent y’all my very first post from WAY back in 2014…though, for those of you who haven’t read that far back, it’s kind of a trip, knowing what you know about the future…so I’ll spin this as one of those serendipitous accidents. Enjoy!)
It is 4pm on the day after Christmas and I am feeling antsy. I need to get the hell out of the house and take a walk…or something. I peel myself up out of the couch (the same one with which I am starting to develop too close of a familiarity these days), grab my keys and exit my apartment building, careful not to slam the door too hard as it is starting to become unhinged. Yes, door, I know the feeling.
I walk for several miles, observing one neighborhood bleed into the next as San Francisco neighborhoods do so effortlessly. The sights of Pottery Barn and yuppy women in yoga pants holding shopping bags in The Marina District is quickly replaced by a smell of garbage and piss as I pass crack-heads in The Tenderloin.
Eventually, I find myself downtown, where I am surrounded by distinguished businessmen, enamored with their smart phones, rushing past me. I find a bar and walk in only to turn around and leave moments later. It isn’t the right one.
Instead, I end up at The Westin St. Francis right across from Union Square. Walking into the hotel, I am greeted with the hustle and bustle of tourists moving quickly in and out of the grand entrance way as if they have somewhere important to be. To my right, I spot double doors leading to a much different sort of ambiance. The sign above the entrance reads ´Clock Bar´ and the interior is dark and quiet. Though I used to frequent this particular bar quite a bit in my past life, I haven´t been here in months, instead opting for more hole-in-the-wall places where I wouldn’t feel out of place in my less-than-perfectly-manicured clothing – My ´dry clean only´ wardrobe has been collecting dust in my closet for months now.
Fuck it. On this particular day, I want to pretend I am still fancy. I want to sit on a comfy bar stool and order a well-made cocktail from some guy in a bow tie.
I sit down at the long, walnut bar and order a Manhattan. After the first sip, I discover indeed, it is the best one I’d ever had; The perfect balance of whiskey, vermouth and bitters complete with a homemade, rye soaked cherry, which sinks to the bottom of the glass like a beautiful ruby in sultry red sea.
As I savor every burning sip of my delicious beverage, a man sits next to me and tries to engage me in conversation of which I can already tell that I want no part. His breath smells of old scotch, both his tie and his hair are disheveled, and his slurred speech indicate that he has been at it for quite some time.
After a few minutes, I politely tell him that I want to be alone. He responds quite well, for which I am grateful, exiting the bar gracefully with only a slight hint of disappointment.
As I turn back to focus on my drink, I can’t help but let out a slight chuckle at the situation.
¨Didn´t fancy that guy, huh? I can´t blame you. He reeked of booze…though I suppose I shouldn’t judge.¨
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the speaker is holding up a snifter with a brown liquid in it. I follow the glass to the hand that holds it and then further and further until I am face to face with another gentleman. I’m not sure if it his perfectly manicured suit, his thick, slightly graying hair or his perfectly straight and white teeth, but this man gives off a very different impression than the last guy. I am immediately comfortable in his presence and exhibit that by happily engaging him in conversation.
After a few brief pleasantries, we quickly advance to more interesting discussion. We talk about life, love and everything in between. I tell him my story, but I feel my sense of embarrassment growing stronger the more I rattle on. I can’t help it. I tell him about how I left my marriage and I left my job. I tell him I have no idea what I am going to do next and that this scares the shit out of me. I tell him how stupid I feel about just giving up on my job and how stupid everyone else probably thinks I am for doing something so careless and childish. I’d spent my entire life building up to such a prestigious position only to throw it all away.
After this out pour, I expect him to get up and leave. I have nothing to offer. I am not a good business contact because I don’t have a job. I am not making any money so I am not worth anything. Earlier, he had shared with me that he is married with children and he doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who would cheat on his wife, so sex isn’t even on the table. I am so far below him in every way.
However, when I finally have the courage to look up from my half-empty glass and into his big blue eyes, I don’t see any signs of any of pity or disgust. Instead, I think I catch a glimpse of…admiration??
Slowly he reaches his hand up and puts it lightly upon my clenched fist, which is resting on the edge of the bar. “Something inside you gave you the courage to leave your job without anything else lined up. This something is an important part of you that you have been ignoring for a long time…maybe even for your entire life.¨ Then his look changes to a more serious, almost longing expression. ¨Listen to me on this one, please. Don’t be afraid of this ´something´. If you keep listening to it, all of the right doors will open for you. Have faith in that,” he whispers knowingly. “For now, go travel. Forget this place and forget who you used to be. Go out and find your new self.” Then, as quickly as he appeared, he is gone, never to be seen again.