We sat there in Dolores Park drinking Anchor’s Mango Wheat beer. It was already 8 p.m. and still nearly 70 degrees out. Amiee, Leef and I had spent the early part of the evening watching the Clinton-Trump debate over at The Willows, but nobody wanted to go home.
“Oh man, I have so much laundry to do,” I whined as we stood outside the bar, giggling about different barbs Clinton had stuck into Trump. “But I mean this weather …”
Warm nights in San Francisco are so rare that they cause fires nearly everywhere throughout The City. Not the kinds of infernos that burn down houses, but the kinds that ignite people from the inside, giving them an intense lust for life.
“Stuart, listen. This is ME telling you this. Your laundry can wait. How often do we get nights like this?”
She had a point.
Ever since she was my campaign manager when I ran for mayor, Amiee has not only been one of my great friends, but often my very pragmatic conscience of sorts. Her cautiousness balances out my impulsiveness and tendency toward hedonism, so the fact that even she suggested I drop my responsibilities in honor of such rare weather made it impossible to go home. Off to the park we went.
Dolores Park was speckled with little groups of people drinking, smoking, listening to music and generally reveling in the magnificence of the evening. We sat on the little berm closer to the 18th Street side of Dolores, near a middle-aged Latino man drinking a tall boy and watching Mexican Banda music videos on YouTube.
“Ha! Look at that!” Leef said. “There are STILL people in line for Bi-Right ice cream right now.” Leef was another person who I’d become much better friends with through last year’s election. His comic book shop, Mission Comics, was our campaign headquarters.
All three of us have lived in The City for many years, and Leef is actually a San Francisco native, so we traded stories about the other rare nights we’d experienced that were this warm. My fondest memory was from 2008: I had recently moved back from New York and was steadily working away, writing “Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in New York City.” It was so hot that I just couldn’t stay in anymore, so I fled to Dolores Park and linked up with a crew of people. There must’ve been 2,000 people in the park that night partying as if it was a Saturday afternoon.
Living in the Mission in my mid-20s, there was always a crew of us. We spent late nights and early mornings fumbling into adulthood together. Then, just in the same way the police arrived in 2008 and dispersed the crowd from the park, my tightly knit crew slowly dispersed from San Francisco. Sitting in Dolores Park the other night reminded me how few were left.
The beauty of life in this city is that it’s constantly churning, and new people come into your world in different ways. Sipping on that perfectly cold beer, I realized the folks I was sitting with at that moment were part of my new crew, my adult-life crew. Nothing will ever compare with the glowing and the growing and the coming of age that was my life in San Francsico in the 2000s, but that’s OK.
Nothing is supposed to compare with that. The shit you go through with your people in your 30s is similar, but you’ve got more grownup responsibilities. It’s somehow simpler and more complex. You help each other out in different ways.
As we bid our farewells, Amiee turned to me, knowing I had a few important meetings the next day, and said, “I’m driving your ass home. On a night like tonight, who knows what kind of mischief you’ll end up in if I let you walk.” And she was right.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.