The house is perched on a hill looking over a cloud-covered valley. Berkeley, San Francisco, Marin, the Bay: all of it is covered. I will drive down into the cloud to deliver Benjie to his school, then I’ll drive back. We moved my desk downstairs yesterday. But I will bring my laptop upstairs, work from the kitchen table and watch the light change.
I can see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from my couch if I twist around like this. They lay just beyond where my wine glass sits on the window sill.
“Arriving by the Panama steamer, I stopped one day in San Francisco and then inquired for the nearest way out of town. ‘But where do you want to go?’ asked the man to whom I had applied for this important information. ‘To any place that is wild,’ I said. This reply startled him. He seamed to fear I might be crazy and therefore the sooner I was out of town the better, so he directed me to the Oakland ferry.”
-John Muir, Yosemite
Today I walked past the apartment where Scott lived for a year when he was a student at California College of Arts and Crafts. He lived there fifteen years ago and I flew down one time to visit him and to spend some time in San Francisco.
I’ve been on that street seven or eight times since I moved to the East Bay — five years ago. Three or four of those times were in the last three months, as I recently moved to an adjacent neighborhood. Today I thought to look down at the sidewalk, at a spot where one afternoon (fifteen years ago) Scott had stopped and turned a penny over as we were walking from his apartment to Piedmont Avenue. Pennies are lucky when they’re heads up, he explained. That penny had been tails up. Not lucky for me, he said. But it would be lucky for the next person to come past.
Today, the spot that I selected as the place where this had happened was a narrow path of newly poured concrete crossing the older weathered sidewalk, filling in where a sewer lateral had been replaced on a house that had been lifted for a new foundation.
“Are you the Kumar who was in some of Wes Anderson’s films?”
“Yes. I was also in a film with Tom Hanks called Terminal. It did very well, around twenty or thirty million dollars.”
Jack London Square