Thursday, July 5, 2007

Summer Guests: Rounds 2 and 3

My apartment looks like a posse of college kids has moved in. At present, the recycling is brimming with a variety of take-out containers mixed in with an impressive quantity of empty beer and wine bottles. A heap of wet towels greets me every time I enter through the front door (well, the only door) and no less than 3 sets of keys are hanging on the key hook from makeshift key chains crafted from paper clips. A mix of Australian, American and (somehow) Turkish coins are strewn all over my dresser, and an open map of San Francisco is spread out on my kitchen counter.

The only thing that separates the scenario from an international frat house is the lovely thank you note on my coffee table left there by my thoughtful guests...and perhaps the fact that my fridge is stocked with soy milk and Annie's Goddess dressing rather than rotting leftovers from KFC. I have officially survived another two sets of visitors--Chris and Amy (on their way back from Toronto) and my old friend, Jay, from Alabama.

You all know Chris and Amy from previous posts, so now some background on Jay. He and I met when we were 16 on a three-week Outward Bound course that took place in the mountains of NC and TN. He was my first real friend from another part of the country--I was immediately memorized by his thick Alabama drawl and thorough knowledge of all things Southern, not to mention his endearing teenage angst. As our group of 12 exhausted teenagers ascended mountains and traversed gushing streams while strapped to 60 pound packs, Jay entertained us all with fishing stories, stunning sarcasm, and spirited renditions of David Allen Coe songs (to this day, I know all the words to Tennessee Whisky, thanks to him). Over the years, we've stayed in good touch, following one another's lives from afar.

After 5 years of failed attempts to meet up, Jay decided to come out and see me. Hooray! Not one to compromise on outdoor aesthetics, he brought us to at what might just be the most beautiful hotel I've ever experienced, near Point Lobos State Reserve in Carmel. Among other highlights were our ceder deck overlooking an ocean-side cliff, a fireplace that was consistently restocked with firewood, AND two big, white robes waiting for us each day in the closet! I felt kind of like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman except I have a different profession, and I wouldn't look as good in that amazing get up she wore (the short, blue skirt that connected to her white tank top with a narrow stretch of fabric and some silver rings).

Each night, we stayed up late, catching up over glasses of wine as the Pacific reflected the bright moonlight just feet away. He smoked cigarettes and challenged me to think of a better drummer than Neil Peart. I failed to think of one, distracted by the view from our deck and the glorious combination of my infamous cabin cuddler and the new Smartwool socks that he had brought me from his Birmingham outdoor store (note: there are few better gifts for me). We discussed his new love interest, our mutual appreciation for Siamese Dream, and the controversial usage rules of the apostrophe. Time passed quickly and the next thing we knew, we were headed back to San Francisco on Highway 1 where we met up with "Chrees and Aymee."

The following day was the 4th of July, and folks from down under couldn't wait to experience the most authentic American day of the year. I was a little nervous that the holiday would be somewhat anticlimactic (were they expecting a parade? sparkelers? apple pie? lightening bugs?), but Dolores Park didn't disappoint. Armed with a collection of blankets and a full spread of picnic food, a group of us spent the afternoon lying around in the sun. Luckily, the cultures of Alabama and Australia/New Zealand aren't too far off from one another, so three my visitors became fast friends...with a little help from some J├Ąger bombs.

Tobacco, beer, nicely developed biceps, sports, more beer and some serious smack-talk seemed to be the name of the game, although I'm not sure what the rules were...or who won. I'm pretty sure I lost, though, as I was the only one who had to go to work today.

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