Before this trip, I'd never ridden a cable car. I've been to San Francisco too many times to count, but have hurriedly tucked into taxis, shared a ride or hiked up and down hills. I've seen the cable cars, heard the familiar ding of the bells as they slow to let passengers on and off. I've always wanted to ride in one, but I felt silly asking the Not Boyfriend to let me tourist-out and hang off the poles when we could be sitting in some tiny restaurant or hiking somewhere together. Once, I asked him to take me and he laughed like I was joking.
"I'm not joking!" I insisted. But I was smiling around my seriousness and we never did take that ride.
Feeling silly suddenly felt silly last week when I promised Lil E we'd take a ride or two on a cable car, an adventure for him and maybe really more something for me.
"Really? You're serious?" the Not Boyfriend asked when I told him we were going to take a cable car on our trip this time. He wasn't surprised I wanted to take E. He was surprised I wanted to go so much. And that I hadn't spoken up already about it. And even more surprised that I hadn't ever been on one.
Then, because he is the compassionate planner he is, he made the plans, paid for the tickets and directed our route on our first cable car adventure. I just loved it all -- seeing the city from atop the hills, steadily gaining speeding downhill, the bell that first lured me in. I loved the brash conductor who nudged us into a prime seat so Lil E could get the full cable-car experience.
I loved the cast of tourist characters talking loudly, excitedly as we passed Chinatown and the most crooked street in the country and slid into the downtown terminal. Most of all I loved the rare San Francisco summer sunshine on our legs and the breeze in our hair -- especially the breeze in E's hair.
He's grown out his hair into full surfer style -- slowly, steadily, individuatingly -- since spring. It's this sign of him becoming more him, and I see it as he carefully combs his bags over with his fingers in the mirror. His world is expanding as his sense of self does, and I just love leading him along to all these different cities. I want him to be thrilled to see the planet. I want him to be curious and humbled and happy to find new places. I want him to hike mountains, bodysurf waves, walk museums. And ride cable cars.
Without feeling silly or being afraid to ask.
Watching him, eyes open and hair blowing back, I felt full of the city, cozied up with my loves, and my heart clanging like a bell inside the noise of the city.