Monday, March 21, 2011

of serendipity and San Francisco

There's one experience I had as a teenager that I remember more vividly than many others. It wasn't the most life-changing or noteworthy thing that ever happened to me. I can't really explain why I remember it so well.

It was St. Patrick's Day 2001, and I was a senior in high school. There were eight of us -- my brother Matt and six of my best friends and I -- waiting in a line that wrapped around the west side of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California, around 3:00 pm. We had traveled far that weekend (far for us, we were but teenagers) to see our collective favorite band, Weezer.

Trevor brought his guitar. As most of us were in bands at the time, and we were all avid show-goers and music lovers (evidenced by the distance we had just traveled), it was a normal thing us to entertain ourselves by sitting down with a guitar and belting out songs (most by Weezer) till we were blue in the face and sore in the fingers. However, we were nervous that our brand of fun wouldn't be readily accepted on the streets of San Francisco so we strummed the guitar quietly and our voices were hesitant.

Then something happened we didn't expect. People in the line ahead and behind us began singing along. And a small group formed around us. Others began shouting requests, b-sides like "Jamie" and "You Gave Your Love to Me Softly," not just the hits like "Say It Ain't So" and "The Sweater Song." I don't know which would be the dependent variable in this case -- our voices or the crowd -- I just know that as one grew larger so did the other.

== == == == ==

Exactly ten years later -- which happened to be this past weekend -- I once again found myself in San Francisco. The serendipitous occasion was the wedding of my college buddy Zach.

Not only was it great to be back in Bay Area (where I had since lived for a three month internship in 2008) but it was even better to see so many great friends that I don't see often because of the distance between us all. (Maybe we should all get married more often.)

== == == == ==

The St. Patrick's Day 2001 concert was Weezer at their best. While the concert was memorable -- how could I forget seeing "The Good Life" and "Only In Dreams" live for the first time? -- I feel like the event itself will be forever overshadowed by the spontaneous sign-along that happened before the show. When you make your own fun, sometimes it just goes better than when others try to make it for you.

== == == == ==

After the wedding reception last Friday night we -- a group of friends, less than a dozen total -- boarded a train in South San Francisco for the hour-long ride back to our hotel across the Bay in Concord (if you want to sound like a local, pronounce it like conquered). We were in good spirits from the wedding and one another's company so I guess it was only natural for us to break out in song as we sat together on the train.

Our repertoire consisted mostly of off-key 90s jams, interspersed with tunes from other decades, and rarely did we finish singing an entire song. I think most of our fellow passengers were indifferent to our potentially obnoxious musical outbursts but there were two who vocalized their opinions. One middle-aged man found our singing off-putting even though he kept a good sense of humor about it. Another passenger, a college age girl, thanked us for an entertaining ride as she disembarked the bus.

The next morning we took the train back to San Francisco for a day of sightseeing and touristy activities. About halfway to the City (don't call it San Fran or 'Frisco) who should step onto the train? The very same girl who voiced her appreciation of our musical stylings from the previous night. Of all the trains, of all the cars, she ended up in ours less than 12 hours later.

Of course, we beckoned her to come sit by us and we got to know her a bit as we made our way into the city. She helped us find our way around the city, and in the evening she even came out and hung with us for a bit. I don't have many 'small world' experiences; it was cool to be a part of this one.

== == == == ==

It goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: I'm anxious to get back to the "city by the bay." Thanks again, San Francisco.

Additional Reading: "I Left My [unconditional love for Weezer] in San Francisco" by Trevor: Trevor's account of our San Francisco Weezer adventure


  1. THE SINGING BARTS! I really had the time of my life on this trip, and I owe all to you, Myke and my fellow Bartineers.

  2. that was a magical moment in my teenage life. glad i could be a part of it.

  3. Singing on the Bart was so ridiculously fun. I am so glad that happened.
    I miss us, all of us just hanging out and being, well, ourselves.

    "Cut my life in two pieces, this is my last reeeesort!..."