and it happened, that the boy and i took a little weekend getaway in san francisco recently. we saw the bridge, and rode the trolley, and climbed up and down the steepest hill ever known to man, because on top of that hill was where our hotel was.
it was all good and fun.
then, on day three, we headed to a funky bohemian district of the city for a photography session the boy had booked.
it was a sunny day, and a brutally cold day. i was wearing layers upon layers of woolly things, many of which i had purchased the day before, because not knowing anything about northern california weather i had only packed skimpy little tops and shorts teetering on the verge of vulgarity and general disapproval. topping everything i had my precious deep red line break shawl, and being thusly wrapped i walked up the street feeling happy and content.
somewhere along the way it got a bit warmer, though, and i took off the shawl and handed it to the boy so that i could take my sweater off, and again it was all good and fun.
we reached the photography studio and the boy was getting ready when i asked him for my shawl back.
his face went blank as he exclaimed, “i don’t have it.”
“what do you mean you don’t have it?” i asked, with a profound sense of discomfort emerging from somewhere in my belly.
“i don’t know where it is,” he mustered as i began frantically looking through my bag, his bag and everything around us, not seeing the signature red colour anywhere.
“i must have dropped it on the street,” he said, and before i could respond, he darted out the door and ran down the street where we came from.
fifteen minutes passed, with me standing there in the studio, explaining to the very busy photographer why the photographee wasn’t there (because he lost something very dear to me), and why i couldn’t call him to come back (because my archaic canadian phone doesn’t work in the states). the photographer obviously wasn’t happy with the situation, nor was i, so we stood there in an epically awkward silence.
finally he came back, sweaty and panting, his tail between his legs, and a terrified look on his face as if he was waiting for the fury of god’s own thunder.
“i couldn’t find it,” he said.
“you are a terrible person,” the photographed said.
i held back tears as they went to take the photos, and decided to walk up and down the street one more time. i looked under every car and every dumpster, and stared down every person walking past as if my imaginary x-ray vision could see into their bags and pockets and souls, telling me which one of these horrible, horrible people took something that didn’t belong to them.
but i couldn’t find it either.
so eventually i went back to the studio, where the boy had finished the session. i told him i couldn’t find it, and he said he was really sorry, and tried to comfort me in every way he could. i tried to appear brave and indifferent, while in reality i was completely heartbroken.
“we’ll go ask every store on the street if anyone found it and brought it in,” he said as we walked out.
and that’s exactly what he did – he went into every single store to ask for it, and in every single store they said no.
after three blocks and dozens of stores i stopped and started sobbing, because even with his noble attempts to make things better, the constant rejection just made me feel worse.
“i don’t want to do this anymore”, i said, my eyes so watery i couldn’t see.
“i’m so sorry”, the boy said and hugged me. “i know how much you loved that shawl.”
so we kept walking, not really knowing what to do or where to go next.
then, at the corner of valencia and 21st, a homeless guy crossing the street had something red draped over his shoulder.
“THAT’S MY SHAWL,” i yelped before my brain realized what was going on, and the boy darted after him with speed and determination i’d never seen before. i hobbled after them, crying with a newly found hope in my heart, and heard the boy plea for the shawl.
the homeless guy was stoned out of his mind, and seemed mildly terrified, possibly because he had just been grabbed by a tall bearded brown person who, true story, gets questioned every time at the airport because he looks like.. well, a terrorist.
“it’s not mine,” the guy managed to stutter, “my friend gave it to me.” his voice was soft and confused, like michael jackson on sedatives. “but i can take you to him and you can ask him.”
the boy hesitated, obviously recognizing that following a homeless person anywhere could be a terminally bad idea, but seeing me blabber made him go for it anyway.
so we went to another homeless person who had set up a little yard sale in the street corner, with stuff that people had “lost” and he had “found”. he was a grey-haired elderly man, with a hawaiian shirt, no teeth and glasses so thick his eyes were completely distorted.
and again the boy pleaded: “that’s my girlfriend’s shawl and she made it herself and it means the world to her, is there anyway we can have it back?”
the man looked at me, and i looked at him, and all i could say was “please”, over and over again.
finally he smiled, took the shawl from the younger guy, and handed it to me. “i can tell it’s handmade and it’s obviously really important to you, and i’m glad to return it to the rightful owner. i found it on the ground and was just going to sell it for five bucks or something.”
i grabbed the red bundle and pressed it tightly against my chest, my first thought being THE YARN ITSELF IS WORTH 50 BUCKS ARE YOU COMPLETELY DEMENTED, and the second one being of such profound joy and gratitude that i literally lept and hugged him.
he was stinky and gross, but i didn’t care.
the boy offered him money in return, but he refused. “i just want to do the right thing,” he said.
and so we walked away, thanking him profusely, and still i sobbed, but now for a different reason. i held the shawl in my arms like it was a newborn baby that i was terrified of dropping and smashing his little skull.
through some divine intervention the next store we passed was princess animal, a lovely little shop that sells our yarns, and we went in, me still shaken and burying my swollen eyes into the sweet, sweet woolliness of the skeins hanging on the walls.
having heard the full tale of what just happened and discovering my employment relations the owner of the shop expressed some completely unexpected admiration and fangirl behaviour, and insisted on giving me a discount, which i fully and happily accepted, and grabbed three of the most luxurious skeins i could find.
upon finally reaching the register and reaching for my wallet the boy interrupted me and pushed my wallet back into my purse.
“i got this. you deserve it.”
and i gleamed with joy as we walked out with 80 dollars worth of yarn in my bag, and had all kinds of fun the rest of the night.
afterwards i felt silly for getting so worked up over such a small deal. but i really do love that shawl.
and the boy’s pretty sweet too.