I am very happy and honored to post something from my other half of 30 years, Dorian Dorey! This is the first time she is posting, but it certainly won’t be the last.
I love the streets of my city, and never tire of walking through the many worlds they offer. It’s one of the reasons my Hunny, Dave, and I won’t leave this city we can barely afford – despite the efforts of many a housing counselor.
Have you ever been offered ‘help’ that would do more harm than good? In San Francisco, I can walk through history when I cross west over Van Ness Avenue, to the houses that were saved from the 1906 earthquake and fire, then trip into the future in the SoMa (South of Market), surrounded by glass and metal rising into the sky; its newest creation, the Mira Building, twisting as it goes up. The beauty and promise of each fill me as I walk.
Dorian walking the Golden Gate Bridge / Photo by DW Rhodes
Then there’s the TL (Tenderloin), wedged in between, its feeling almost post-apocalyptic. Here, I feel a true belonging, walking among my many displaced neighbors on its streets as they gather among rundown buildings. Drawn in by my own brokenness, the reassurance of recognized fellow brokenness is a gift that counteracts the sheer effort it takes to walk.
I’ve lived with debilitating chronic pain my entire life and it never gets easier. If not for Chester C Cane, I couldn’t explore the streets of my magical world-traversing city. Illness often keeps me inside and, as thankful as I am to have a soft place to land when I need to recharge, staying in bed is not as pleasant as it may sound.
There’s so much humanity to discover down on the streets of the Tenderloin yet, thankfully, my love of architecture caused me to keep looking up and discover all the incredible history our buildings reveal. We TL tenants are continuing a legacy of independence and determination. My own was betrayed by my fainting disorder when I woke up on the sidewalk.
The first time, I landed teeth first so still have the chipped tooth as a constant reminder. I was wary of every step after that first fall yet I’ve been bed-ridden too many times to allow myself to get stuck at home, so walked hilariously slow for a long time. Although not alone when I fell, I was also not in the TL and I would’ve felt safer on these streets. Their tenants take care of each other.
In the West Portal neighborhood near San Francisco State / Photo by DW Rhodes
My disability is an invisible illness, since pain can’t be seen, and I’m not really seen most of the time. These fellow survivors in the TL see me, they may not know my struggle yet they see that I relate. Don’t we all have hidden pain? Our conversations cover a spectrum, from too relatable freckles – I never knew I had so many til I was homeless, constant sun’ll do that – to the more nonsensical which was most recently repeated memory fragments.
Most interactions are about the difficulties of the day; I help if I can & I listen as long as my body will let me. It’s in those moments – the shared joy of being heard – that I forget my pain for a time, unless it’s the matter at hand. 😏
The soulmates, in front of an ad for Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City, THE MUSICAL, at Castro Station
You can get all the Dorian Dorey you want by visiting her own site.