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San Diego Peter style

November 2, 2008

This is the abbreviated version of my trip to San Diego:

To see Peter I flew on a plane
the homeless were all quite insane
we ate a burrito
and to the beach we did go
And the sun shone without any rain

If that isn’t enough you can keep reading.

I made the flight to San Diego by the seat of my pants. I understand that it’s a wonderful place to go, but I don’t understand why every flight, regardless of the time of day or day of week, is oversold. Getting on a flight under these circumstances makes me feel like I’ve gotten away with something naughty, and I can never relax until the plane has pushed back from the gate and I know I’m not going to be caught.

I left Georgia in a jacket, scarf, long sleeves, jeans, and enclosed shoes, and within minutes of landing in SD I was sweating. It was warm and sunshiney the whole time I was out there. It did get a little chilly at night, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. After being in Massachusetts where it was threatening to snow last week, this was perfect. I wonder if the amount of sunshine in San Diego has any positive impact on depression. I can’t imagine being depressed in a place like that.

I’ve been to San Diego quite a few times, but this trip was different. In the past I’ve always visited Roya – who has a car. Now she and her car have moved to LA. So, this time, our sweet ride was public transportation. It was nice to be able to see the city the way Peter sees it and do the things he does. Using public transportation introduced me to a completely different side of San Diego – the homeless side. I can tell that Peter is getting used to it when he casually mentions “the homeless lady who lives in Starbucks”. There are homeless people everywhere, and based on the previous paragraph, I can’t blame them. There probably aren’t that many big cities in the US that rarely freeze and have sunny days year round.

Everywhere we went there were homeless people. I passed a man passed out on the grass beside the sidewalk when I went running. There was the lady around the corner with the shopping cart and sparkly eye mask who, according to Peter, has breath that can span a Starbucks counter with its foulness. There was the lady on the bus with the crazy hair and odd clothing. She only had a few bags and we wondered where she kept the rest of her stuff while she was riding the bus around all day. It got to the point where I couldn’t tell if someone was just dirty, or if they were homeless. One man was wearing shorts and a tshirt and every visible part of his skin was soot covered. Peter said he’s always dirty like that. It looked like he’d been rolling in one of the coal bins that San Diegans use to heat their houses during the frigid winters.

Some were begging. Some were just hanging out on the sidewalk. There doesn’t seem to be an age limit for being homeless. We passed an RV parked on the street. Its owner had opened the side door, and it was completely full of junk. Evidently this is common as well. I thought that after growing up in Atlanta I was immune to beggars and homeless people, but the size of San Diego’s homeless population makes it hard not to notice. I wish I could say I was filled compassion and a desire to help them, but the truth is, I just want to know their stories. I want to know how someone gets to that point. I want to know how they find enough food every day to live. I want to know what they were in their past lives. I want to know why they collect so much trash. Are they riding the trolley on hope that no one checks their tickets? Are they content with their lives as they are? After a few days in the city, I’ve come to feel that the homeless are as much a part of the landscape as the palm trees and the seagulls.

Speaking of palm trees… Our first stop in San Diego was cleverly named Ocean Beach. We got there late in the afternoon when the light was perfect for taking pictures. We mocked the pregnant couple who was having pictures taken by the pier. The water was cold, the sand dark, and the seaweed was heavy on the beach – quite a change from my last trip to the beach. Ocean Beach seems to be a surfer/tourist town based on the number of surfers, bars, and cheap gift shops. Shopping and people watching is always fun with Peter. We tend to like the same things, and like to make fun of the same things. When it comes down to it, we’re snobs and heartless jerks. And we love it. The rest of the day was spent eating burritos and tacos, trying not to get killed on the darkened water front, and listening to Peter sing the Phantom of the Opera in French.

Monday began in Little Italy, where the sandwiches are scrumptious, the delis delightful, and the grafitti grotesque. Phrases such as “poopy pants” were splattered everywhere! We spent a lot of time in an art store imagining things we would draw or paint. Our wandering led us to the waterfront where we wandered more. The boats started out small and dilapidated. We even saw the boat version of the homeless person’s shopping cart. As we walked along the water we saw an interesting collection of “trees”. According to Peter they were “sculptural renderings based on each artist’s interpretation of what a tree could represent”. Some of the ones that caught my eye were a swordfish whose scales were made of old cds, a pole with spiral steps that ascended to heaven, a dragon, a swirling music staff without any notes, and a palm tree with surboards for fronds.

The boat gradually got bigger and fancier until we reached the cruise ships. We mocked people who were taking pictures of ships they were going on, and then we took a few. Further around the bay the USS Midway (an aircraft carrier) has been made into a museum. Being an aerosexual, I have a feeling I will visit it before too long. Our goal at this point, though, was to get to the statue of the sailor kissing the nurse. It’s so big that I was about the size of her shoe. The statue is on a point of land that sticks out into the bay near the Midway. There is also a Bob Hope memorial, and Peter and I made short work of using the metal statues for our photographic amusement. Did I mention that we’re jerks? No hearts – either of us.

We continued to follow our feet to the gaslamp district where we had natural frozen yogurt with raspberries at Pinkberry before catching the trolley back home. It was a beautiful day to be touring an interesting city. We finished the day by watching Amelie.

Tuesday Peter had class so I waited at home while he went downtown. I went for a run, but it was really lame. I think it was because I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since early the night before. Then we went back to Ocean Beach and walked up to Sunset Cliffs where – surprise, surprise – we watched the sunset. The cliffs seemed to be quite the popular place for running. Peter and I discussed walking abreast so they would have to run through the succulents. We discussed a great many deep things such as why the surfers 30 feet below us had skateboards with them and which car full of old people was the smell of weed coming from. Later, in celebration of Peter’s one year anniversary in San Diego, we had Thai food.

I tried to catch the red-eye home Tuesday night, but missed it by 2 seats. Six hours later I was back at the airport and ended up getting on the first flight – by the skin of my teeth once again. It’s a good thing I like Peter, otherwise I’d never try to non-rev to San Diego again ;-). Wednesday afternoon, dirty and tired, I was met at the gate in Atlanta by J which made me very happy. Even after a funny and fun visit with my favorite little brother, it’s nice to be back home. I just wish I could bring the sunshine and Peter back with me.

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