Before reaching San Francisco, we contact Alex. He and I shared an appartment together in Paris in 2004 for a couple of months. I was of the firm belief that he resided in Washington D.C. and therefore had not contacted him prior to our trip which would not take us there anyway. But as we approach San Francisco, the spirit of the Wild Rover must have whispered into our ears that we should get in touch with him.
We google him and find out that he has a teaching position at San Francisco State University. Can it be? We send him an e-mail, and he answers. Another reunion ahead of us after 13 years!
But first of all, we need to get to our hotel from the RV drop off station. A friendly young man from Afghanistan takes us there in a cab that just fits our stuff. It turns that he is a fan of Hertha BSC, the Berlin football (soccer) club, out here in San Francisco!
Back to Alex. After exploring the neighborhood of our charming little hotel in Nob Hill down to China Town, we follow his invitation to the “Legion of Honor”, a museum in the West of San Francisco, where the Bay enters the Pacific Ocean. And there he is, awaiting us in the sun, we smile, we greet, looking like Karl Marx greeting Friedrich Engels, and take a nice little hike along the cliffs with a spectacular view of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. But not only that: As if they had decided to perform a little welcome show for us, at first seals, then dolphins and sea otters, and finally a whole pod of humpback whales appear in the Bay, and we are taken back in our memory to our whale watching tour with Captain Rob back in Port Townsend up at the Puget Sound.
Later that evening, our friend takes us to a charming old school seafood restaurant in Nob Hill where we have local oysters and “cioppino”, a tomato based seafood stew, which we wash down with one too many Anchor Steam. We share stories of the time when we shared the apartment in Paris, which included a trip to the Oléron island in the French Atlantic Ocean where we met my entire family. My mother quickly recognized Alex’ talent as musician and songwriter and upon her gentle request, Alex came up with a little oyster song –
“How many years are you waiting in the sea, waiting in the sea for me to eat you” –
which has been with us ever since. Also, he and I enjoyed playing the guitar together and singing Irish folk songs, especially the “Wild Rover” which we sang in two voices as often as we could. Those of you who know me a little will remember me howling this song over the last decade on various occasions.
Alas, we do not have our guitars with us, but who knows, maybe someday, they will reunite. In this spirit, we part with our hearts filled with joy of this cheerful reunion.