Leon and Varda will step onto the Oakland tarmac at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, towing red and gray suitcases packed with toothbrushes and too many pants and Middle Eastern panic, seeking the quickest way to the Bay. Why can’t you just meet us at the airport? they will ask, then transported, moving with speed underwater, a giant tunnel snaking beneath the Bay Bridge. My fist will playfully connect with the backs of my dad’s ribs when his back is turned, his left hand on my mom’s shoulder, shielding her from the heavy beats of bucket drummers and homeless men selling their Street Sheet weeklies and remnants of replaceable dignity to those descending into the Powell BART station. She will kiss my face, and because she is short, my back will need to adjust, the legs bending for leverage, to allow the rest of the body to follow for more matriarchal remedies. They will tell me how flight went, how Southwest only serves peanuts and juice and exactly how many of the flight attendants were gay. JUST. SO. GAY. How she has leftover turkey and avocado baguettes and wants to know when I will want them, now or later. We will argue about taking a taxi or a bus, and after a quick lecture on sustainability I will relent because they have expendable funds for such types of things, and on the way to Hotel Kabuki my dad will ask me about my coccyx and why I haven’t seen the doctor yet. At the concierge desk will be a girl who studied marketing in Sacramento, she is bland, her face washed out from too much sun and not enough books, vacuous eyes that tell nothing of history, who grows nervous when the five-foot two Iraqi woman in a cape and scarf politely prods where the best restaurants in town are, if it’s safe to walk around here at night, and if people here really take the busses. Here’s a list of places nearby; Yes, absolutely, very safe, very safe; I drive, but most people use MUNI. They will go upstairs to smell the bedroom, measure the size of the shampoo and conditioner bottles, and argue whether my dad should bring the light or heavy coat out tonight. We will walk towards the water, sit down and debate if we should go by the glasses or go for glory, and we will all sample each others pumpkin soup. They will ask about school, about the girl, the coccyx again, the unqualified asshole orthopedist ready to inject their son’s 15-inch spine with cortisone, Obama, and whether I still like my roommates. I will talk about school, and the girl, and Obama, and fight about taxes and real estate, and Fersht and his new house and what his first kid will look like and if he’s really ready to be a father, then move back to the girl as the eyes grow wide from wine, they’ll ask what she’s like and if she’s nice and yes she is nice and she is great and how do you know because I just know that’s she’s sweet and what do her parents do? he is a chemical engineer and she’s a lawyer like you Aba haha oh really what’s her name? I hope I didn’t sue her and we’re so happy for you and her, so when can we meet her? I will ask about Edahn and Elana and our Grandma who is dying and how happy she gets when people around her sing in Yiddish, whether my dad speaks Yiddish, why he never taught us Yiddish. The Pinot Noir has taken over us completely by now, our voices grow loud and we are speaking frankly now, without reservation or concern for how much or even what kind of attention we are drawing to ourselves. Say something in Yiddish Leon! You’re in San Francisco now! Say something in Yiddish!
It’s Hollow’s Eve, a night of costume orgies and bloody whacked eyeballs, traffic and jammed bus lines, armpits and sweatstains in my face, children cackling, their tiny pink hands gripped tight onto trashbags full of Mr. Goodbar and Snickers and Pixie Stix and Raven’s Revenge and promises of trips to the dentist, tired parents chatting business and politik with the parents of kids their sons and daughters are kind to, out of towners screaming obscenities and where-the-fuck-are-yous into chipped slippery cell phones, the embarcadero lit up with people, the liquor in their bellies warding off the cold fog rushing in from the Haight spilling into Market and beyond, girls assemble without thought into groups and take pictures of one another, capture memories because they are too important to not be cataloged, the drunks stumbling home cursing the MUNI bus driver who still demands fare but even on Halloween dude? cabs pewter out with white young professionals assuming the line, bumming smokes while waiting, is there gonna be a cover? Can your friend get us in? Can he really get us in? and the rain, the rain the rain the rain thwarting or enhancing? everyone’s chances for meeting body to body with the ones scattered about after last call was called, the black doormen too busy flirting with skinny white nurses to give more than even a passing glance at the incoming, now with maglites in their heavy hands, so heavy they could hold you by the throat and break your motherfucking neck, a spotlight in your eyes, swinging swinging high, your pupils temporarily blinded its so fucking bright, somehow, like some UFO beam forcing you outwards again, again into the cold, cold night.