“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” That’s exactly what’s happened to me this past month. I’ve been meaning to write a blog (yes, I know, I’m a month overdue), but life just got in the way. I was living and making new stories.
I spent a long weekend at Lake Tahoe, a week with my two sisters in San Francisco, a weekend with my cousins from LA, and a few days in Ohio. But this past weekend, I got to experience something that’s in all the tour books, on the newspaper headlines, and one of the highlights for many locals in San Francisco.
Folsom Street Fair.
Wikipedia defines Folsom Street Fair as “an annual BDSM and leather subculture street fair…California’s third-largest single-day, outdoor spectator event, and the world’s largest leather event.”
I wasn’t about to miss this experience, not because I was intrigued or fascinated with BDSM and leather, but because it was known all over the world to be a liberating and freeing experience. And I had full intentions of embracing everything about this event. A week before, I found a leather and chain corset on Amazon for $9.94. Done. Delivered in two days. It fit like a glove and I looked great. I couldn’t wait for the event.
But the morning of Folsom, as I rolled over in bed, I pictured myself running around San Francisco in a leather corset and leather thong. Images of me on the front page of Huffington Post rolled through my mind – “Folsom Street: For Everyone, Even the Disabled.” And even worse, the conversation I would have with my boss on Monday morning was gnawing at the back of my adventurous spirit. I was torn. I wanted to experience the event to the fullest, but I was a professional. I had a career that just wasn’t worth a few hours of liberation on Folsom Street. So I compromised – leather corset and jeans. Such is life.
As we approached Folsom Street, I felt the little girl from small town Ohio rising to the surface. Why was she here, I thought? Go away! And then I realized – I was a little outside of my comfort zone. I couldn’t figure out why, and I still don’t know, even after hours of self contemplation. Things like this don’t usually phase me in the slightest. But since I know that uncomfortable situations are the best way to grow internally, I did just that. I listened and observed for the entire two hours we were there. Most of the events or sightings I had seen at some point in my life, although not necessarily in person (Google has everything!).
Some of it was painful, like the 70 year old man who wanted to be physically hurt. Some it was entertaining, like the 60 year old man – big, hairy belly and all – laying completely naked on his back, legs in the air like a peacock. Event goers circled around him for photographs, and I knew just then that he was a true exhibitionist.
The event itself was short – from 1 pm to 6 pm. A simple daytime event taking up just a few blocks in San Francisco.
All in all, it was exactly what I expected. The uneasy feelings I had are long gone. And I’ve now had the “Folsom Street Fair experience.” Would I recommend it to my friends and family? Absolutely. Go with an open mind, and do something you might have not considered doing while you were there. Don’t worry…there are hundreds of people. No one will be looking at you. But liberate yourself, wear something out of the ordinary (or don’t wear anything at all!), and know that there are few times and places in the world where you can literally do whatever you want in the middle of the street.