|A real live miniature Up house, complete with the cast of characters. One of the more elaborate props/costumes we saw.|
A lack of momentum left me merely a spectator to the madness. Next year I'll go big, but this year I stood on the sidelines with an old friend and watched the multitude of crazies drift by. This friend, T, is my backbone in this city. He is the person I call regularly to check in with when our lives have kept us apart for a week too long. He is the person I used to lay under beds with giggling about obscene things and funny voices, the person who would sneak over to my house and knock on my window in the middle of the night so we could go outside and lay on the driveway and be teenagers. He has always been there, somewhere in my life, and now he is here. Here where I can do my laundry at his house while we talk about Lady Gaga and watch Golden Girls. We live within a short walk of each other for the first time since sophomore year of high school and there is no one with whom I would rather be in the sidelines, watching the world go by.
In the crowd was a couple of naked older men, as you're bound to see at Bay to Breakers. They walked along calmly, taking it all in, their tan papery skin adorned with careful precision. One had glittery stars stuck here and there, random but intentional, a walking constellation. His taller companion had been painted with a subtle abstract design; his body a canvas and the artist, no doubt, by his side.
We looked at them, and T hoped out loud that one day, when he's old, he might have such a person. And shouldn't we all hope for that? Someone who will paint our wrinkled skin with care and attention to detail. Someone with whom we can stroll the streets naked, clad only in the knowledge that you have and will always have each other, plus some glitter stars and pink paint. This, T and I agreed, is freedom.
Then we realized much of what we were seeing before us could accurately be defined as freedom. All of those who wanted people to look at them but clearly did not give a shit what anyone actually thought. Guy with a belt of rubber chickens? Freedom. Couple of old broads dressed as cowgirls, complete with shiny white tennis shoes and a look in their eyes of pure naive wonder? Freedom. Naked Elvis? Also freedom. These people are living. They might have looked like nut jobs but they must have felt like the world was theirs. Maybe they don't always go through life with this same sense of can-do, of pride in whatever the hell they are, but I like to think that they just might. And if there's any city in which to be this way, it's here.