In a free world it is probably acceptable to go running at 3:30 a.m. if you so desire because...well, you can’t get back to sleep even with 400+ Dish channels and as many commercials to bore you into permanent sleep..
So you need to do something with all that energy and little if nothing is helping you get back to sleep.
At the top of the Nob HIll, you study the elaborate doors of Grace Cathedral for the first time; although, you have been to Grace Cathedral a 1000 times. At last you have slowed your pace to enjoy something that was always there.
Down hill in Western Addition valley, you jog around Jefferson Square consisting of six blocks down Eddy Street to Octavia and up hill to Ellis and down hill on Franklin and back to Eddy Street. Around and around the square you jog like a rat in a cage and Arctic Monkeys “505” plays repeatedly in your headphones. That guitar. You can’t get enough of it esp. at 3:26 to the end of the song.
After running really hard and sweat dripping down your sides, you find a long green bench partially wet from morning dew and fog and it’s in a quiet spot under a street light and a white building rises behind. You put away your stuff meticulously on the grass --headphones, phone, wallet, keys, etc.--because you need to stretch and for God’s sake not have sore muscles all day at that paying job.
There are people in the park.
People who in spite of city park closure code 3021live and sleep in the park. Others just like to hang out in the park and party and smoke weed and crack and shoot speed up their veins and sip Old English malt liquor beer and other unmentionable things we pretend not to see.
While jogging or strolling you are careful to keep each one of them in the cornier of your eye and at a distant--even if there is nothing in the world you fear except but yourself. Freedom is somewhat imagined. In your imagination you’re always going back to 505. A seven hour flight or a forty-five minute drive and that monstrous guitar plays on...
Then as you’re doing cobra stretches on a bench to keep that backside most firm and tight because you never know when it might come in handy, a couple stumbles down the hill talking in loud ghetto voices. The man is black and chubby and looks like an ex-Muni bus driver. He even wears that Muni beige shirt and brown polyester pants. He’s eating a slice of Round Table pizza or something like that and carrying a pizza box and you hate Round Table pizza but decide now is not the time to think about Round Table or be a snob about it. You raise up, tighten your buns. A black woman with a squeaky voice is with the man. In the jean suit and flowery blouse, she struts along with man. She is short woman and her hair is well groomed as if she just got out of a beauty parlor. She replies to the man in a squeaky voice, that is at first startling, of what she “ain’t gonna do...”
Head back down, legs half way up, buns tightened...you breathe and hope this arguing couple would soon go away.
Instead they linger like nasty cockroaches in the dark, the man telling the woman they will have the bench as soon as I am done. The woman gripes, “We ain’t gotta wait. There’s plenty room on that dang bench for us, too...” And I’m thinking. My goodness! My gracious! What kind of crap is this?
With more than a dozen benches in the park and I am on this one and in a vulnerable cobra position, these bitches want to share the same bench when, really, they can have another. In fact, there is a more private bench under a tree with slopping branches just a few steps up the path.
“Good morning, brother,” the man says right by my head. “You all right, brother?”
The woman flops down in the middle of the bench close to my feet....watching me like a hawk.
I utter good morning back as the man steps off to the side, ungirds his pants and pees in the grass.
Although I remain cordial, I am unable to continue stretching at this point, sensing their “no-good” vibe. I get up, gather my stuff, wish them both a good day and leave.