I am walking by a graveyard.
It is a military graveyard- the people buried here were likely casualties in some war.
I walk amidst the headstones, reading off the names. A lot of these people were young men.
As I walk through this throng of gravesite markers in the dead of the night, I begin to wonder what things were left undone by these people. Just how much was left undone.
Words never said. Ideas never conceived. Aspirations never accomplished. Lovers never met. Lovers never seen again. Children never had.
The graveyard feels loud. It feels loud with voices- voices destructively interfered with, by untimely death.
It’s in the middle of the night here at the Presidio in San Francisco, but strangely I feel somewhat deafened by the riotous voices seeming to bubble to the surface from the graves, and overhang the general area like a dark insidious cloud of suppressive heaviness.
In a few months I’ll be having dinner with a classmate couple in Berlin. One of them’ll mention something about how whatever happens in life is for the best. Even the very negative things, like untimely death. I’ll ask her if she really thinks that perspective is valid, or if it’s just palliative. She’ll say she’s not quite sure.
I keep walking.
At some point I come upon an asphalt road. I put down my skateboard and begin to skate.
I am skateboarding by one of the very interesting Revivalist buildings which populate the Presidio. Some guy walks out of one of these buildings. The room he walks out from, is very brightly lit. I think he’s security.
He asks me what I’m doing here. I describe my night. Went out for a walk, skateboarded a bit, found myself here, skateboarding onwards. He seems satisfied with my explanation, and tells me to go on and be safe.
I keep moving.
I am at the Golden Gate Bridge. I have absolutely no idea how I got here.
I began this night by heading out of the dorms at Nob Hill. I doubt I could find my way to the bridge during the day without a map and without asking for directions. I have no idea how I managed to do it at night.
A few minutes ago I was walking along a footpath bordered by some brush and some short wooden poles which had some sort of rope strung between them. I headed out of the footpath and voila, there was the Golden Gate Bridge right up ahead.
I am at some sort of a car park. I’m trying some ollies on the skateboard. I still haven’t gotten the ollie thing down.
A guy at the Sunset district expressed some humorous scorn when I told him I had been skateboarding for about a year. He was surprised I couldn’t really do any serious tricks.
I was somewhat taken by surprise. I still considered myself a young skateboarder- one who consequently deserved some slack with regard to proficiency at tricks. I was surprised by what he said.
He was an interesting guy. Steven. Steven with a South American last name. Said he was a jeweler. Looked like he was high most of the time. I was curious what his day was like as a jeweler. I wondered what his office/workspace looked like and stuff.
He expressed some sort of disapproval at Nob Hill as a residential location.
“Noise everywhere from the passing vehicles, homeless people…”
At that point I realized how quiet the Sunset District was. I had spent the past few months getting used to, and even coming to enjoy the auditory bustle of Nob Hill, but at that moment I realized there was definitely a point in his perspective.
He was riding this bike. Modified bike. It had large handlebars and a strangely low seat. He looked like he was riding a bike meant for preschoolers, but at the same time it looked cool. He said he built it himself. Said he intended to exhibit it at some event for modified bikes coming up soon.
I am at the Golden Gate Bridge. I have no idea how I got here. But that’s not so much of a problem. The actual problem is that I have no idea how to get back.
I have expended pretty much all of the impatient repressed energy that sent me bursting out of the dorms this night, to the amusing amusement of the Turkish-looking security guard. No way I’m skateboarding back to Nob Hill this night. I don’t even feel it. My body has no such plans right now.
I am in an office. I think it’s an interesting office, because it looks exactly like the movie depiction of American police stations.
I take some time to stare around the room, taking in the very interesting space while feeling like someone just threw me in the middle of a movie scene being filmed.
I walk up to an officer sitting by a window overlooking the bridge. He looks obese, most likely because of the sedentary nature of his job.
I explain my situation to him: Left Nob Hill on a walk, found myself here, don’t know how to get back etc.
He seems very nice and kind. He makes a phone call and tells me not to worry. Says someone is coming to get me. I feel relieved.
I ask him what he is doing by that window. It doesn’t look like he’s taking in a leisurely view of the bridge at night. It looks like he’s doing his job.
He says every once in a while someone comes along with the intention to jump off the bridge. He’s there to prevent that from happening successfully.
Oh wow. That’s pretty intense.
I wonder how computers could possible be equipped to carry out such a task. I don’t know, maybe there’s some sort of a pattern in the gait of suicidal people that computers could learn to pick up on. I don’t know, maybe.
My ride is here. I thank the kind officer at the station, and head into the car.
I’m being driven by a young police officer in his mid-to-late twenties. We’re engaging in conversation. He says he recently got married. Says some people think it’s strange he got married pretty early, but that he’s very happy with it. Happy with his marriage and his wife.
To be honest, I’m in the group that thinks it’s strange. I think he’s a loser for getting married.
Have some woman somewhere with whom you go snuggle every night. What a loser.
In the next few months I’ll find myself in love. And everything he’s saying will make profound sense to me. I don’t know anything now. I don’t know anything.
We’ve reached my stop. I can get a bus to my destination from here. I think the police officer, wish him goodnight and head out of the car.
Image: A different night. With a skateboard borrowed from a Chinese classmate.