In July of last year I moved to California with two suitcases and a cat. New Mexico was a failure. With 16 years of school behind me, I knew how to be a student but not much more.
I was the youngest in a house of strangers on Lincoln Street. Some were vegans. Several were photographers. One worked at Whole Foods. I had three parttime jobs. I built a bike. I rode it around town and 11 miles to work and back along the coast. Winter came. I bought a car. A silver VW. I cooked with coconut oil. I went to a mansion party in the mountains. I made homemade lemonade. Someone stole our tomatoes. I taught at the university. I sat on the roof with books. I slept on the floor with my computer. Gemini. Rigel. The winter sky. The belt of Orion points to the nose of Taurus. The Pleiades beyond them blue and pale. All five points of Auriga. Was it Saturn that paired so memorably with Capella four years ago at the telescopes? Now Andromeda is setting. Now Albireo gone. The moon cast shadows in my room. NPR in the mornings. Board games with my housemate’s daughter. My cat disappeared and came back. I shot slide film. I ran baths that smelled like roses. I studied GRE vocab in them.
In December I ran from Santa Cruz. To the Richmond library. To the Nob Hill cable cars. To the ocean on Taraval. I had a big room with three windows. I hung Christmas lights on them. I burned logs in the fireplace. My room in China town smelled like mold. Abi slept in the lounge. I don’t remember what the bathroom looked like. I went to see the place on 29th. The room looked too small. I bought my first bed. I put it together at midnight. It fit. It faced a window which faced an exterior wall. I picked out curtains to make the blue more tolerable. Slowly the living room came together. A rug, a pair of lights, a couch, some paintings. At sunset the train tracks shone bright orange. I waited tables in the Marina. I played piano some afternoons. I drove to Saratoga to teach. In our backyard grew an apple tree.
Working 10 hours a day in Sacramento, Davis came and went like a dream. I’ve lived there too. And played touch football in the park. And sat on the banks of the Sacramento River. And gasped like a fish in the Central Valley heat. I read my name on the newspaper stands. Dressed down on the weekends. I took a day trip to Napa. A night trip to Half Moon Bay.
At Stanford, we’ve just finished with my first paper. My mom’s house in Maryland is half built. Mom, first dissatisfied with how long construction took to begin is now dissatisfied with how quickly it’s nearing its end. My dad is job hunting, like me. He hopes to move to Maryland to the new house by February. February is when they send out graduate schools acceptances. We’ll see who gets the good news first, my dad says.
I still feel dizzy every time I pass under the Bay Bridge. Or flip a hill to a sudden view of the city. Life in pieces, disconnected little scenes, has happened here. It’s my first day of work in the Marina. I’m running the last 10 blocks to the restaurant because I missed my transfer. It’s opera day at AT&T park. A breeze sweeps through the upper decks. I look to my left, the moon hangs over the bay. Or it’s evening, with the setting sun in my eyes, I’m on my bike, coasting down to the sea, endlessly.
Alta has said they will likely make me an offer. If nothing goes wrong with my references. I am beginning to make plans for a new life in San Jose.