The bench outside of the restaurant was perfect for watching people. We did not mind waiting; the small Italian place in hidden off the main streets near Coit Tower in San Francisco was a wonderful gem. Besides, you could watch without others thinking you were watching. The evening sun was fading, overwhelmed by fog returning to take it normal place in the life of San Francisco’s residents.
As the fog began to hide our extended views, two men turned the corner and headed up the street towards us. Something had happened and it was pure gold! Even though we could not hear their voices clearly, you could feel their intensity and joy. It was an intoxicating mixture of surprise, wonder, and unfiltered happiness. One could sense that this was a memory and miracle unfolding in front of our very eyes.
As the two got closer, everything picked up speed. Our street was fairly steep, so each step required intentional effort. The exertion seemed to amplify the excitement between them. They were clearly good friends, if not more. The focus and banter was face to face, soul to soul, heart to heart. This was by any measure a perfect moment.
As I began to let me view include more than the two of them, I realized they were on a dangerous path. Eight more steps and there was a eight foot high, two foot wide parking sign. Unless something changed, the lead man of joy was going to run right into it. I called out, only to realize that my voice was consumed by the fog and breeze that came with it.
I could hear David’s voice in the background; “When things were going great I crowed, ‘I’ve got it made.’” (Psalm 30.6)
Eight, seven, six, five, four, three, oh no! Like the ones before, final step was forcefully intentional. The banter was animated and blissfully ignorant of anything but the joy of success.
The intensity of a man’s face slapping the sign sounded like a low caliber gunshot. On this day, success came with a price.