Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Standing in Awe

Standing in Awe • Hand dyed fabric • 13" x 13" • ©2010 Jennifer Libby Fay

When I first moved to San Francisco, I roomed with my friend Noël who had also just arrived in the big city. The apartment had two bedrooms and two baths, one each on either side of a large living room area. The best thing about the place was the picture window. It had a view of the City, the Bay, the Bay Bridge, Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, Alcatraz—and if you stood close to the window and looked to the left, the Golden Gate Bridge. I don't remember looking to the right very often but I am sure it was beautiful too.

In my mind the place seems huge but that might have been because we didn't have much in it. Just
a stereo and two armless, skirted, green velvet chairs that swiveled. Ashtrays, drinks, food, books all went on the floor. I don't think we even had a lamp. We sat in those chairs night after night and looked out that window. It was like having our own personal movie theater. The fog came in, the fog went out. Lights sparkled. The traffic made ribbons of color on the bridges. It was mesmerizing. Every once in a while there were fireworks. Noël and I would marvel that people in this magical place could have fireworks when it wasn't even the fourth of July. We vowed that someday be rich enough to throw parties with fireworks anytime we pleased.

One night we were treated to a fantastic thunderstorm. It rained hard, and when the lightning bolts flashed in the sky over Oakland the whole tableaux lit up for a few seconds, the Transamerica Pyramid gleaming white in the distance. Wow, we thought, it's great—just like home.

The next morning, as usual,
Noël went to get the newspaper but she came back with a funny look on her face. She couldn't even speak—there on the front page, above the fold, was a big photograph of a lightning bolt from the night before.

Lightening? News? We laughed and laughed. This San Francisco really is a crazy place after all.

Many years have gone by since then but I have only seen lightening in the Bay Area on one other occasion—it didn't make the paper though, I checked.


  1. I love this entry.
    Just a beautiful piece of writing.
    I see your apartment, the view, the moments spent between friends. A perfect west coast vignette.
    Lovely art too! : )

  2. It sounds like a wonderful place to dream about! Beautiful fabric.

  3. I am so glad you like the post. Thank you for commenting—it's very encouraging, which is wonderful.

  4. Jennifer,
    Your post brought back memories of my apartment in SF many years ago. There was no window on the Bay, but it definitely offered a front seat on the parade of the Castro. There is something so moving about going back and exploring the simplicity of those times.