Folks down there live a life of ease.
After H and I left my father’s hotel, we ventured up to SF to visit his old room mate from uni who had just got married… the plan was to stay a couple of weeks and then road trip to NYC... What we didn’t expect to happen was that we were immediately embraced by C&S’s friends and instantly had a social life, with a foot hold in their basement apartment in the very grungy Lower Haight. It was 1993.
After a month, they understandably kicked us out so we rented a month-to-month studio on Broderick and Grove in a 12-unit building that had been built in the late twenties... We picked up odds and ends from garage sales and with a futon on the floor and a make shift table from an old window stacked on wine crates, we made it work.
Since I had a green card I got a job right away but unfortunately H had to deal with the visa issue and with all the back and forth to the UK, the strain finally broke us.
Heartbroken, I found myself alone for the first time in my life caught between two worlds, asking myself every day if I should go back to London or go onto NYC by myself.
My very kind neighbor, Mr Lewis, was an elderly retiree who seemed to know everyone in the neighborhood... I always felt his gentle presence as he would wave at the window every time I came and went, even in the wee hours of the morning sometimes. Without fail, I always waved back... He made me feel safe.
On Saturday mornings (if I was up) I would sit on the stoop with him... He insisted we were related because our last names were Lewis and my family had probably owned his at some point… I tried to explain that I grew up in England but he just batted that notion away.
He was very proud of his beautiful bright blue 1953 Buick Roadster that he now only drove on Sundays and his stories were filled with its adventures.
Even though I was struggling with my dilemma, I always felt Mr Lewis’ was looking out for me... He was my guardian angel.
Every now and again whenever I was back in the city, I would drive past the building... For many years I was re-assured when I saw his car parked outside and it would make me feel like everything was going to be okay.
The last time I went by, it was gone... I sat behind the wheel and cried...And then I realized even though he is not here anymore, he is still my guardian angel...and he will always be my family.