Flashback to Pride, the last weekend of June 2011…
Cousin Edna was blasting Mexican music (and probably freaking out the gabachos upstairs), because that’s what my down-ass cousin Edna does when she’s in town: She fills the house with her bubbling fire of energy, philosophizes about love, life, people and family, and renews her and the ruca’s soul with music they grew up to. It was Pride weekend, San Francisco’s biggest holiday of the year, the house was alive with family and a non-stop ringing phone, and even I was singing along in my best Spanglish to Rocio Durcal as I began reflecting about all of my past Prides over the years. I’ve spent a couple too intoxicated to say my name, a couple as an awesome Samaritan assisting disabled elder dykes in wheelchairs, and several sitting next to Edna in the front row as we watched the ruca perform as MC on stage. Then, it hit me.
“Babe, what’re we doing for the march this year?”
“Well…” the ruca started, in that tone that said she already had conspired some type of plan. Never one for subtleties, she was painting her eyelids a bright tropical turquoise with gold eyeliner, and feathers in her hair to match her pink and red flowered dress. (It’s too bad she’s so hell-bent on saving the world, she’d have made such a great performer.) “I was thinking after we’re done with the rally at the park, we could sit at Delfina, eat some really good pizza, and watch the march pass us by.”
“Delfina?!” I blasted. Delfina is like the crème de la crème of gourmet pizza in the city; a must do at the top of every foodie’s list. But (and there had to be a ‘but’) it was also right in the heart of where the march was going to be passing through. “There’s probably 30,000 people in the city right now. Do you know how many other people probably have that same idea?”
The ruca looked at me, a glare of scorn. “You’re such a pessimist, you know that?”
“I prefer the term being realistic.”
“Realistic?! Ha! That’s funny, coming from someone who lives in the clouds.”
I handed her the eye-shadow brush she was looking for, sticking my tongue out at her.
“Your pessimism aside,” she continued, “Would you want to watch the march from there if we had the chance?”
“Or course!” I piped. It was true that the ruca had a genius idea about watching the parade while dining at one of the best spots in town, but those kinds of miracles only happen to holy people who walk on water. “I just don’t wanna get my hopes up for something that seems nearly impossible.”
“You watch,” she said. “I’ll find a way to make it happen.”
“What’s going on?” Cousin Edna asked, walking into the room.
“We’re just talking about what to do after the rally,” I filled her in. “Your cousin wants to eat at this spot where the parade is going through and watch it passing by.”
“Oh,” she said, rubbing the ruca’s coconut lotion on her arms. “Will that place be hard to get into?”
We arrived at Delfina’s before going to the park to scope out the scene for later. I was stuffing a salchicha wrapped in tocino in my mouth while the ruca did the talking: “No reservations? Show up and sign our name in? How long a wait?”
I shook my head, grilled cebollas dangling out of my mouth like monster tongues. Even with all the odds seemingly against us, the ruca was determined. I didn’t want to tell her that I’d already resolved on watching the show from the sidelines, and getting trampled by thousands of rainbow flags rippling through the masses.
We crossed the street to the park where we could hear blasts of taiko drums thundering through the air. The park burst at its seams with all kinds of people: butchy dykes in leather vests, glittery-eyed femmes, androgynous lezzies, tutus and chains, pink and purple mohawks, bouncing boobs in every letter and number size imaginable, and taut cherubic-esque booties hanging out—and, of course, the ever sweet incense of skunk, sweating its fumes throughout the park.
Picking a spot close to the stage, we laid out a blanket where we met up with friends and made new ones as scores of scenes played out in front of us. Marga Gomez, the notorious comedian, was working the crowd, saying that there was a new 2-floor lesbian club opening right in the heart of Castro. Our attention piqued, we all eyed her onstage as she hit us with her punch-line: “It’s called TRADER JOE’S!”
We walked along the top of the park, alongside the Muni tracks where some of the more hardcore dykes were soaking up as much booze as they could, concealed under the denseness of shade. Women everywhere and all around us kissed in their own celebrated sanctuary, captured in the exhilarating aura of open love. How cool it was that so many lesbians from all over the world made a pilgrimage to San Francisco for this one special day, and here we just drove right up the street for it!
The afternoon passed leisurely. After our friend Wanda sang onstage, our clique of four—Cousin Edna, our homegirl Viva, the ruca and me—began to pack up. It was early, and we had about an hour to go before everyone in the park filed out for the march that would take over the streets. We headed back to Delfina where we put our name on a wait-list that was longer than Santa’s “Naughty List.”
I sighed, getting my butt comfy on the curb where I’d probably be sitting for the next few hours.
Names got called out for the restaurant, though I did not get my hopes up. My stomach began to churn, that salchicha I had macked down earlier no longer filling me up. I was getting hungry, thirsty, and had to pee. And I was really ready for a drink, having held out all afternoon. Tables came in and tables got bussed, people wined and dined and watched the crowd. I wanted to be one of them so badly: wanted to be the one on the inside looking out, watching the thousand wonders uncoil before my eyes over courses of food and glasses full of wine. I realized suddenly that I really have grown up. All I was looking for was a mellow way to party, and celebrate my own personal pride with the intimate family of people I’ve created for myself. I consider Cousin Edna just as much my cousin as I do the ruca’s, and I’m just as attached to Viva and her partner as I am to morning coffee and my daily writings. The realization of my own personal blooming evolution left me deep in thought. I was proud that I no longer felt the need to be ‘that wasted chick’—like the one in the street who was puking next to me. Sagacious and reflective, everything felt at peace. Well, everything but my growling stomach, and my parched dry mouth, and the lingering stench of vomit, I guess.
All at once, a thunder of engines ripped through the crowd and clusters of dykes on bikes zoomed down the street, their shiny machines dazzling all the more with hot chicks clasping onto them from behind. High passing fives were slapped as they strolled down the limbo line, followed by the roller derby girls, their swiftness an almost oblivious blur that zipped down the street. The rest of the on-foot parade would be catching up shortly, but for now an antsy anticipation spread through the fans of people like a wild itch. The calm before the storm only seemed to promise a grander finale.
I was beginning to get poked and pushed and shoved, with an uneasy feeling of claustrophobia coming over me, when all of a sudden, in a majestic and surreal wave of brilliance, the host called out, “Sarah for 4!”
I looked at my gente, my peeps, as I giddied incredulously at the ruca. “Sarah, like me?”
“Yes!” she squealed, pushing me forward. The server was already standing over our table—by the window! It was the best spot in the house: a front-row view of the march sashaying by us with the interior warmth of the oven just steps from the kitchen. Baked herbs of basil and toasted parmesan were emanating from the ovens and tickling my taste buds. We could hardly believe our royal flush of luck as we settled in, the ruca with a knowing look in her eye, proud of her bruja magic.
Wine was poured and poured some more, and the food was nothing less than incredible: a classic Margherita, mushroom pizza with truffles, sides of collard greens drenched in seasonings, and fresh sprigs of oregano served on the side to garnish. The service was super attentive and genuine. While engaged in conversation, we watched as the entire march passed us by; flags swirling, signs held up, screaming frenzies of fanatics, and tiny tots wearing tops that said I love my two Moms.
Between glugs of wine, I felt a little ashamed at myself for not having any faith in my ruca’s manifestation at being able to make things happen. I have to remember that when you want something so badly, the universe can aspire to make it happen for you: whether it’s front row seats to the biggest show in the city, or getting my books published. (The latter I have to remember not to lose hope in, and to continue manifesting my talents going golden!) As I dipped my cherries in a creamy dish of mascarpone for dessert, I could feel the ruca tap me underneath the table. I already knew what she was going to say. And beating her to the punch, I said it for her. “Yes, my love. You did tell me so.”
© Sarah C. Jiménez 2011, All Rights Reserved
© Sarah C. Jiménez 2011, All Rights Reserved