My Etsy Shop

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"It was 39 years ago this month..."

I found a blog, very early this morning, that features obscure locations in San Francisco- on Boing Boing-by the way, a great site for anyone who is creative in a nerdy kind of way, or the rest of us, who are simply obsessive makers-
I went looking for some photos of the 60's San Francisco that permanently stole my love, and ran across a site that was honouring Janis Joplin, my onetime favourite singer, dead 39 years ago this October, in 1970, a few blocks down the street from where I very sad at the time, didn't even know she was there...
It got me reminiscing about San Francisco, the city that always breaks my heart...I first went there (hitch-hiked) in 1967, and oh my, what an amazing street scene it was-Haight-Ashbury, musicians hanging out on the street like everyone else, drugs flying, the air redolent with the smell of pot and incense and, usually, dogshit...everyone hung out either on the Street, at the Panhandle, a strip of parkland that extended from big, gorgeous Golden Gate Park, or within the park itself, listening to music and bongo players, or various speakers, ranters, and comedians who would go there and do their thing, passing the hat afterwards....
I loved it! Crowded, noisy, architecturally astonishing after the cement skyscraper aesthetic of Southern California, and way too wonderful to go back to smoggy, groggy ol LA-but, I did, because I couldn't find any legitimate work, and even then, San Francisco, that beautiful pie in the sky, was far too expensive for a poor ol' hippy chick. By panhandling til I had enough money for some beads and fishline, I managed to make enough necklaces to sell to tourists, who drove slowly by through the Haight, gawking at us all like some alien zoological forms. Between the necklaces and the underground papers we hawked, I made enough to get a bit of a stake together (probably $5) to get back to my LA job/home...working in a communal coffee house and living upstairs in a tiny room just big enough for a twin bed mattress and an upturned paint can for a side table...funky, but home...
Even then, I relied on my wits and creativity to get me by..retired now, nothing has changed much, besides a few decades of experience and a degree of crafting sophistication not really evident in my late teens. This is what I always wanted, and it took me many years to get back to it, but here I am, and all I really want to get across with this little meander down memory lane, is that we may think we know what we want-we may even be convinced that we know how to get there-but life, if you let it, takes some interesting detours that help to enrich the experience of living, if you are open to it. I was, and I'm grateful that I got to experience San Francisco at that time in history, and many times after that initial foray, always with pleasure, like visiting an old and treasured friend, but always, always, having to say goodby.

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