To Dipti who called me from the JFK airport in New York before her plane departed for India (where she was gonna dance with her entire ancestral village in celebration of her brother's wedding) because she was calling all her peeps and who asked me to be more specific, Tell me the day-to-day stuff, because, yeah, sometimes the poetry swallows up the actual and the mundane:
Throughout 2002, I am hungry. (I'm still hungry, but not as much. This is what love does, I suppose; it makes you forget that you are hungry.) The first few months are forgettable. I send out a lot of envelopes stuffed with cover letters and resumes. Then the summer arrives; it is unusually warm for Berkeley. In July, I move outta the attic because my slumlord decides enough was enough and turned off the electricity in a successful bid to get us squatters out. Not to mention possible new tenants: raccoons; their sooty pawprints on the kitchen floor is enough evidence of this intention.
That July, I sleep on Niva's couch in San Francisco; it is located in a flat that overlooks Dolores Park, which is spiky-palmed at night, when I would stand on the porch to watch train after train glow by with kittens that devour my socks and sweaters raw-ther easily for tiny teeth and stomachs.
I ride the J Church often but walk to 18th and York, where I write and edit articles. Later I would be hired at a toy shop, peddling robots and bears that cry. I would discover 1) I don't like to sell and 2) a very good way to sell robots and bears that cry is to flirt. The only problem with that is when the patron decides to ask for certain digits. Other moments of semi-employment: a dressing room attendant at various trunk shows, Little Red Riding Hood in a student film, editor of a letter re: air pollution and autism, one-day hawker of No Mayo music, and Astroturf runway model.
In August, I move to Oakland, to a flat on 18th between MLK and Jefferson. There I live with ladies of the anarchist persuasion who do not rinse their dishes before putting them in the dishwasher; they watch the Simpsons every night at 7 and 11. At first living in Oakland is hard: I can't find any laundromats or pinball machines nearby and I can't afford groceries. (Sometimes it still feels like I'm moving in.) But then I discover de Lauer's, the all-nite newsstand, and dilligently locate the nearest donut shops. The landlady removes the fountain that kept me up at night, allowing for little girls to sketch hopscotch patterns and bat tetherball during the early weekend mornings.
In September, I get into a bike accident after much likker; barreling down 14th, the borrowed Mongoose had tripped over the concrete dividers. The first thing I think when I notice the shallow pool of blood is that I need to take a photo of it. I have a scar; it runs thick and dark under my chin. A few threads are stuck under the skin because I didn't get stitches.
A few days later, I wear chocolate and band-aids; it is my birthday night. Not only did I meet Kat, I also meet the man I would fall in love with two months later, but I don't know this at the time; I try to wrestle him because I know, vaguely, that I am supposed to dislike this man.
In October, I am Little Red Riding Hood. I am also sad and scarred and bruised stiff. I meet Littlecough at the skateboard deck art show Joe curated for the magazine. My lil brother and Tara are in it too. Mel would give me the lil bronze Schwinn I had left behind at the attic; astride its seat, I would find out more about my new city, speeding round the Lake ("Gooseshit Pond"), closest to freedom. I attend a party in the Oakland hills wearing a flowered turquoise muumuu and a blond wig, unlit cigarette perched on my lips. A young man sits down next to me and discusses politics with me. Later I will recklessly give him my digits, wondering why I am supposed to dislike him.
In November, I visit Rini in Davis; it's a small muddy town. I also grow in love with a tall young man who paints trains. He also has blue eyes and tells good stories. We go to Victor's in East Oakland, where we imbibe Coronas over books. Shortly after I meet the Heron, I begin to note birds, live and dead ones. Because I love this young man, my lil brother has disowned me. I miss him, but I do not regret loving this man, even if we fought on New Year's Eve, when I cried alone at 4 am near the Lake, watching mallards pair. A young Korean man would approach me, to tell me, Time will pass. My wife died a year and a half ago. Time will pass.
Now it is the New Year. I have seen a little monkey, its head white-cloaked, peering at me from its owner's proudly cradling arm. I have seen a raccoon in rigor mortis, lying at water's edge. I have seen seagulls dancing on the grass; they stamp their feet, stopping only when they see me spying.
I will take Spanish and statistics in the spring, because that is what I need to do to become a university graduate; perhaps in the near future, I might apply to graduate school and become a librarian naughty in fishnets and discreet leather. I will feel relieved to be working in an office, rather than on Haight selling shiny things to strangers. I will write more and more, perhaps enough to make up a book, something of paper and ink, something that I can smell and feel between my palms.
I have made some resolutions, none I will reveal because these resolutions are private, committed in the quiet darkness of a bedroom on 18th, between MLK and Jefferson.