At first glance, Alcatraz didn’t seem to provide much respite from the five days of work I’d just had in San Francisco.
I’d had little sleep all week, so I felt ragged by the time Phil joined me. I needed a nap, a day of lying down, of lazing about on a beach somewhere. San Francisco, rainy, chilly, breezy San Francisco, hadn’t allowed it.
“After this hill,” the guide told the crowd, “there’s another hill. And then once you get over that hill, there’s another.”
I looked down at my strappy sandals.
I was definitely overdressed for prison.
The guide talked a bit about Al Capone, a model prisoner, before sending us off to fetch our audio guides. We were the last group for the day, and if we got to the top too late we wouldn’t have enough time.
“Let’s wait for the crowd to disperse,” is what Phil would have said if people really talked like that in everyday conversation.
As we headed toward the main building, I braced for an arduous climb. I wondered if It would be any worse than a few nights before, when I’d trekked up Nob Hill in heels on the way to a work thing.
“Why am I so out of breath?” I’d asked another reporter amid one of my nonsensical, long-winded stories.
As Phil and I wandered around the premises, we were struck by what we saw. Seagulls flitted about, and blue water surrounded us. We could see the city in the not too far off distance.
“I wouldn’t mind staying here,” I joked.
Such beauty, we’d soon find out, was among the cruelest punishments of all.
Ode to Bill Cunningham