Currently, I'm borrowing someone else's life, inhabiting someone else's home while they are away. Each day and night I wander around in a house that isn't mine, playing records that aren't mine, using DSL that isn't mine (hence the uncommonly high output of entries lately), and feeding kittens and a desert turtle that aren't mine.
Here, the differences between this place and what I had once called home are outstanding. I notice the unfamiliar: the frozen organic dinners in the freezer, the built-in breadbox in the butler's pantry, the scratched-up chair upholstery, the rank smell of used kitty litter, and how dark the flat is, because the windows are always blinded and kept locked.
If I was in Berkeley, I woulda probably skipped out the door, to play pinball at the bar downstreet or hunt donuts, fresh, upstreet. I mean, I know Berkeley. But tonight, I watch British movies via digital cable, while unusually ferocious wind rattle the windows, combing the palm fronds with a madwoman's vigor. Outside, the J Church rumbles round Dolores Park, spiky darkness buttressed by points of orange florescent light. I press licorice-sticky hand against French door, gazing upon a city I don't know fully. Yet.
Surreal, you see, this transition between cities; I've forgotten what it's like to be in transition. After three years in my attic and six years as a Berkeleyan, I've forgotten the sensations that accompany being transient, the stranger, wandering among sights and sounds and smells that are, slowly, becoming familiar each new day.
Now I wonder what will happen when Niva returns, because I have lived this city the way she has lived it, with every amenity available, the ideal neighborhood just outside my door. And that, that comes with privilege. Or survival, by rolled-up sleeves, a brow furrowed with determination.
Being surrounded by the things that aren't mine and the things that I don't necessarily desire, I am restless. I want my own place (and a book of my own stories published), my own familiarity with a place (and its stories), lived the way I have chosen to live it. (Is this the moment before ambition, the moment before discipline?)