A Friday late afternoon on what feels like the first day of Spring and a trip to a Ferry Point Park is order. I find myself a bench facing the water and simply jot down my observations. All is quiet except the electronic bonging of the buoys on the bay. The sun warms the side of my face and my right arm. In the distance is San Francisco.
I watch a couple of young dudes who have hopped the fence on a dock that has been deemed dangerous. They hang out and just goof in their over-sized shorts. A sailboat ambles by letting the subtle breeze dictate its pace. Further down the trail an old couple argue their old arguments, their voices slashing at the quietude. Three young people in matching magenta hair are all “dude” and “shit” and one of them proclaims her belief in aliens as they walk by. A pregnant woman and three small children (possibly more as their other children straggling behind) make their way towards the old ferry landing with their fishing gear. The little boy hides behind the stroller and then peeks out and says “hi”. A white guy in a cabbie cap, a neat blue button-down shirt and dockers walks by smoking a cigarette. He doesn’t say “hi”. Perhaps he had a long week at work and is not feeling up to forced pleasantries.
Two kayakers paddle into view, their boats close enough to converse without shouting, but mostly they are silent and the only sound is the rhythmic splash of their oars. A pair of trim women, probably in their 50’s, walk by looking comfortable and serene. I imagine that perhaps they are yoga buddies, but today since it was so beautiful opted to go for a walk instead. And then it is quiet again.
Soon a young Asian woman comes along pushing a young boy on his bicycle. The bike looks new, modern, but his metal training wheels with the chipped yellow paint look like they may have been passed down or found at a garage sale. A few minutes later an older Asian gentleman is pulling a very young girl on a very tiny bike with even tinier training wheels. The man has the bike on a make shift leash pulling the girl along as her legs dangle idle.
At the beginning of the trail, right at the water’s edge, I see a lanky adult in a vest and a Tilley hat pulling a neatly dressed small boy close and whispering in his ear. I can’t tell if the move is to comfort the child or to admonish him. Their dog, still listening to ancient instincts, starts to point at what I can only guess is a bird in a bush. As they walk closer I see the lanky adult is probably the child’s grandmother. As they walk by the woman greets me kindly and the child turns to watch me write.
“She’s writing a ticket” he says getting the older adult’s attention.
“No, silly, she’s just writing.” she says as she turns to me, “he’s a little obsessed right now with getting tickets.”
“I got beat up by a bully today” the boy tells me. Looking at his outfit it looks like he may attend a private school where those sort of things are not supposed to happen.
“Oh, that’s awful” I said.
The older woman once again pulls him close. “He did the right thing and told the Principal”. The boy looks up at her. “Didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess” sounding a bit worried. “But” he said changing the subject “I knew she wasn’t writing a ticket. I was just joking”. He stepped away from her as if to establish his autonomy.
The grandmother doesn’t fall for his attempt at changing the topic and continues “I asked him how he was going to deal with that bully and he said he was going to change schools.” The hopelessness in that statement stunned me. “But, we’re not going to do that, are we?” she said changing her focus back to the boy.
“No. I’m going to go up to him and tell him he owes me an apology”, he said somewhat mechanically but with confidence.
“OK, well you take good care of yourself and know no one deserves to be bullied and it’s not your fault.” I said with some conviction even though I had no idea what I was saying.
The boy waved good-bye and they walked off with the grandmother’s arm once again wrapped around his shoulder.