Dad woke up at 4:30am and journeyed to Portland International Airport in his Toyota Tundra, with the gentle melody of Chris Isaac’s “San Francisco Days” escaping the radio speakers. How appropriate, he thought, because he was on his way to Fog City – to visit me for the first time since I’d moved to San Francisco in August 2008. I stirred shortly thereafter, at 6:00 a.m., to shower and finish the last of my cleaning before retrieving him from Oakland.
On Friday I’d put together the “fake house,” which is what I call the apartment when it’s squeaky clean, sprinkled with freshly cut flowers and candles. (My spotless studio doesn’t exist in “real” life, as much as I’d like it to.) The “fake house” bit comes naturally, thanks to my mom. She has a mind-blowing knack for fashioning a straight-from-a-magazine home in just an hour. I hang clean towels elegantly in the bathroom and cover the bed with unsoiled sheets. All rugs are vacuumed, floors are mopped, and tabletops are Windex-ed according to protocol – and, consequently, mounds of my junk suffocate every closet.
After the staging, Darren is usually allowed to drape one of his manly, flannel shirts over the couch, because otherwise he says the place looks “too girly” – and “he lives there too.”
Next on the list? Was to check out Darren’s new loft. (No, we haven’t moved in yet.) Although the sales office was locked and we couldn’t go inside, it was fun to tip-toe around our future patio and peer in through the windows like secret agents.
Next up? The Stanford-Oregon football game in Palo Alto. Christyn met us at the field; she’d caravanned down from Eugene the night before with a group of twenty girls. My aunt, uncle and cousins showed up, and even Darren’s friends tagged along to provide some Duck support. A sea of yellow and green flooded the stands. We were embarrassed (but smug) when telling my aunt and uncle – who are fair-weather Stanford fans – that we couldn’t spot much Cardinal attire in the crowd. Oregon supporters pounded the bleachers and bellowed the traditional “Ooooooohhhhhh” during kick off, then fell lifelessly silent as they watched bolts of lightning-fast activity up and down the field. Stanford fans kept quiet for the entire first quarter.
And then they started winning. By a lot. They chanted and cheered and even shook their keys in the air while arrogantly repeating, “Drive home safe-ly!” But my smile didn’t fade because I was with my dad.
Like I predicted, the day slipped away in a flash. Because the best ones always do.