And so it ends. Six years and 4 days after landing in this bizarre and wonderful land, it all wraps up in 11 hours. With a life resembling a carnival lately, I worried I wouldn’t have time to say a proper goodbye to the city and my pals. I was wrong.
The separation celebration festivities began last Wednesday with a gathering of the troops at the Buccaneer Pub, site of many mid-week rendezvous (rendezvous’s?) over the last few years. They came out of the woodwork to raise a pint one more time. I was impressed.
On Thursday, I walked out of my job at Clif Bar for the last time after 5.5 amazing years. What started as a job and an attempt to do something, anything, for more than a year (all I’d managed before then) became a career and a life-changing and value-shaping experience. My co-workers have taught me an incredible amount about what it means to live a good life – one with purpose – and have become my surrogate family along the way. I will miss them – but I’ll see them again.
The day began with a humbling thank you at our company meeting and ended with a beer, chips and salsa session at the end of the day. They threw in a pinata for good measure. I thanked them by beating the crap out of it. From there, a few of us headed out to a German restaurant in SF. In addition to Bratwurst and Wienerschnitzel, more than one gigantic glass boot full of pilsener was passed around the table.
On Friday, the wedding celebration of my pals Johnny B and Kelly began. I can’t say I’ve ever been a part of a more distinguished event. The ceremony took place at Grace Cathedral, with the reception just a block away at the Fairmont Hotel. The families rented out the penthouse of the hotel for a few days surrounding the event. The 5,000 sq. foot space that has seen the likes of JFK, Bill Clinton and a host of other presidents and celebrities, overlooks the city with the Transamerica building, San Francisco’s famous skyline landmark, in the distance.
After a beautiful ceremony, and a stroll back to the reception led by one of the Buchanan’s bagpiping countrymen, we kicked up our heels to congratulate the new Mrs. and Mr. Buchanan.
Because one reception is never enough, we eventually headed back to the penthouse to finish things off. You Sean Connery/The Rock fans will appreciate the end of the evening. Those of you that appreciated the shag hippie-do I’ve been sporting for the last few years, will not.
In one of the early scenes in The Rock, a flick about Alcatraz, Sean Connery, an escapee brought back to SF to break IN to the landmark prison, is having his haircut on the balcony of the very penthouse we found ourselves in for the wedding. While I’d planned on shearing the locks before donning a helmet for the next 8 weeks, a few beers into the night someone thought it’d be a good idea to re-create that scene with yours truly playing the part of the distinguished Scot.
Sitting on the balcony just after midnight, sporting my groomsman tux, the curls came off. ‘Twas a fitting end to my time in SF – surrounded by friends, in one of the most beautiful spots in the city admiring a view I’d soon miss.
And damn it feels good. Liberating. After a few years of the shag, I’d started to indentify myself with that look. But a fresh do for the adventure seems only fitting. And so, I start anew. I left a mohawk as a joke, but now I sorta like it. I think it’s gonna stick around for a bit.
I promise I’m almost done. Only one more post-departure chapter left.
After a brunch in the penthouse cum barbershop (and a few confused stares from those that missed the late night festivities), the wedding adventures were over. And John ank Kelly were off for Tahiti..
After a “family day” with Jim, Marie, Kim and Trisha (something of a wonderful and lazy tradition that involves sitting on a couch for an entire day laughing at each other while grazing on Thai and pizza, losing a few hands of poker and enjoying something from the Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell vaults), the final prep for departure began.
Eight hours and 57 errands later, the bike was packed and there was but one more gathering of my pals. Ten of us shared an unbelievable dinner at Bobo’s on Lombard St. Filet on the bone anyone? Dungeness crab? Chocolate fondante? Hello?? The food barely softened the blow of saying goodbye to so many amazing people. Again. I love all of you and am already daydreaming about the reunion – when and wherever that may be. I’ll miss you.