October 10 – October 16
You wouldn’t think of October as others think of it outside of San Francisco. It’s hot, for starters, and when it does rain and grow gray, humid. But that, I like– it reminds me always of New York in that July when I was stranded at a park bench in Verdi Square beneath a sheltering canopy of a tree. Someday I will return to New York and see it at, in my opinion, its most visually stunning, fall. But for now, I only know the season for what it is in San Francisco. That in itself is a lovely, unrivaled thing.
You have the Victorians really come alive without any effort, haunting beauties stepping out onto the scene like straight from the childhood tales that frightened me to the bone. My mom lived in Noe Valley as a little girl in the 60s, where off of Noe and 24th was an iron-gated mansion grand and gray with flowers wildly take it all hostage. The witch’s house, her and other neighborhood kids mused. I now see that in October, the city is lost to many of these homes, and it is a city of witches. It’s not too bad, not at least when ginkos and other trees fade into bronze and butter yellow.
The pumpkins are out, small and round or on the scrawny side, sometimes of a golden orange or a sickly pale cream. You can purchase them overpriced at the Target down on Mission or Mollie Stone’s where while your at it might be able to splurge on the Starbucks just outside of it with your leftover change. That’s the easy way, what I would have done had I never found out about Clancy’s Patch. It’s out past UCSF in the hills overlooking the Sunset where a disheveled grove in the fog transforms into a buzzing marketplace to pick up pristine pumpkins and have yourself a few pictures with loved ones. Yes, you can go alone, but if you wanted to buy a pumpkin on your own you might as well just haul your ass quickly over to Target.
Sometimes the nights are humid, the best time of year to host evening events for the annual Lit Quake festival and down an assortment of wine paired with only the most riveting and political poets of these past few years. That way you can run to the bus stop with your friend and drink in the warm night and the lit windows in skyscrapers seeming like stars, something moving you, whether it be wine or words. You’ll look back and realize that seeing Natalie Diaz read “Catching Copper” live never had you feeling so vulnerable, even in a way wine could never cast on you. Poets come alive in October, it is a bewitching month where ghosts and their words latch onto you even after you’ve left their haunts in hotel hallways, Vesuvio.
October has a tendency to break your heart here. As much as you feel moved and enamored with words of passion you’re just as easily fooled into a false hope, disappointed and bitter that your heroes have fallen. 2016, another even year, and not another championship for your favorite baseball team. Maybe I’m getting overly sentimental, a bad sport, but it’s so easy to get sentimental over America’s pastime. You won’t be missing the thrill and stabbing pressure of each game they battle through while you’re downing another Stella at Harry’s or Murphy’s, nor the defining catch or double that might win them into the next game or end them all– you won’t miss the chaotic parade that floods into the streets of Market where you might be able to watch it rain orange and white and gold confetti atop from the 40th floor. You’ll miss the memories that you could have made like you did in the past three championships where all those moments did come true. The cheap pennant you bought on the street for not-so-cheap, being on the shoulders of a friend to see Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum giving standing ovations as they’re driven through in convertibles, the golden and brilliantly orange sky that pierces the day and McCovey Cove as dawn breaks the night after Pablo Sandoval had caught the pop up from the Royals. You’ll miss having those kind of moments to look back on, and you wish it were that way rather than remembering the last game that knocked them out and knocked you to your seat in the living room.
October is not an easy month to love, but the best thing about it is that whatever happens, you can always do nothing. Sit back, cold night or hot, get under a Mexican throw blanket and pop on some scary movies or catch up on the first season of Narcos. You might get to do it with someone you love. He could live in the outer Sunset close to the ocean and always chilly out in the art deco-designed row houses that trudge along the flat streets between 48th and 9th Avenue. Occasionally as you watch movies his roommates will pop in, a Brazilian student at USF and an East Coast transplant working odd hours to make this new dream out west work to forget old ones and old loves back home. They’re wonderful people, always smiling and hugging you on first making their acquaintance– and you might get a bit jealous that you mostly live alone. The friendly new faces aren’t just the best part of a night in at San Francisco. It’s waking up beneath a skylight on warm sheets and getting up in this unfamiliar apartment to coffee perfectly concocted with too much cream and sugar, and maple bacon donut from Uncle Benny’s that truly warms your heart upon first bite.
I’ve always felt strongly that fall is a likable sort of season for its drastic and explicit flair for change. In the weather, the trees, the clothes. San Francisco is an October city in its own, stiff yet consistent way. Always the same in habits, but just taking each year to make something new emerge from each passing. That is how October should feel.