At dawn the sky was the same white-blue color as one of those thick old layers of ice inside one of those old-time freezers that didn't know how to defrost itself.
Dolores Park was empty except for one or two shivering dogs. That white building with the dome is a Christian Science church reportedly scheduled to be demolished so that another profitable block of unlovely condominium "lofts" can be built. But with everybody going broke now, perhaps inertia will preserve the dome for a while longer.
A deep trench for MUNI tracks runs along the park's western side. I stood on a pedestrian bridge for this view. Below me in the lingering night-time shadows two adolescents were huddled in a concrete corner under a heap of coats and blankets. A tidy plump gentleman in puffy black clothing approached and squatted down to talk to them. Perhaps he was a benefactor, but I thought to myself that the tableau had a kind of predatory look to it. And when he glanced up and saw me watching, he glared at me, not at all in the manner of a do-gooder.
The San Francisco sky gained color without getting much brighter, silhouetting another big empty church alongside the park. These abandoned structures apparently cannot be protected as landmarks because they lack sufficient architectural distinction just as they lack sufficient historical significance. In my opinion a new category should be created so that well-placed traditional buildings like these can be preserved as Follies, similar to the rockeries and obelisks and pseudo-temples in the gardens of Jane Austen days.
I left the park and headed west, making vaguely for the nearest branch of my bank and its cash machine. Everything seen through the camera lens looked blue with the cold. And then a bright-red sign jumped out of the gloom.
Top floor! Sunny! Hardwood floors! Balcony!
Let's not lie, the whole Christmas Season depresses me every year almost to the point of suffocation. One of my habitual responses in order to keep breathing is to indulge wild fantasies of radical change. Why not move? What, after all is Spencer Alley, except for cheap and spacious and quiet and convenient and familiar?
I walked on, watching the breath issue from my mouth in frozen clouds. The seductive red sign stayed in my mind's eye, like a pretend-flame. But when I reached the denser parts of 18th Street, nearer to the bank, fresh visuals in bright droves staked their rival claims.