Sunday, April 04, 2010

Without a Chair in the World

Dispatches from the new world:

I'm parked in front of the public library, which sits in beautiful McKinley park, about a twenty-minute walk from home. I'm parked in the dark in the rain, which shows no signs of letting up, and I won't have wi-fi at home until at least Tuesday. I found a coffee house that is open 365 days a year and spent a few hours of Easter Sunday communing with Brent over Webcam and complaining about everything I could think of to complain about, just to get it out of my system. I do that when it rains.

I will never be able to relate all the details of the events of March of 2010. I will only be able to record impressions and expressions, and load the blog up with photos and descriptive language. I can tell you that there are a lot of speed bumps in this town -- literal upheavals in the asphalt -- and that nobody seems to be able to agree what to call them. One block it's "Speed Humps," the next it's "Speed Lumps," and a third might actually say "Undulations." At least the symbols are consistent.

No place will ever supplant San Diego as my idea of the perfect city. However, I can say with a lot of emphasis that Sacramento is clearly going to be a very nice place to live for as long as we're here (and I'm having a very hard time with the fact that I have no idea how long that will be. Five years? Twenty? It's a mystery, a book missing its whole second half). It's soothing and green and overflowing with flowers and restaurants and unpretentious people (for the most part, at least compared to L.A. It is still California, you know). But it is nothing like Southern California. There are times when it feels as alien as Oz or Wonderland or New York City in 1889, and I am Dorothy, Alice, and Jo March all in one, dazzled and dazed, overwhelmed. I am not in love with Sacramento. Yet. But I do like it. And I am looking forward to the stopping of the rain.

I am settled in on B Street, inasmuch as a person can be settled in without furniture, kitchen implements, or seating of any kind. I eat perched on the wide whitewashed brick hearth, fending off the cats, and the meals I do manage to prepare I eat with a plastic spork out of a plastic take-home container from the local delicatessen. Nothing hot. I drink skim milk out of a Gatorade jug and cut zucchini and carrots and oranges from my own tree with the tiny blade of the Leatherman Micra Kelly got me for Christmas several years ago. I brought home a frozen pizza one night before realizing that I had nothing to take it out of the oven or cut it with; I managed okay once I remembered I had some dishtowels in a bag of clean laundry and the little Leatherman.

I travel so much that it really isn't a hardship to be so simplified and reduced, except weekends like these where I have no idea what to do with myself. It doesn't surprise me that I am somewhat defined by my stuff, but I'm also surprisingly flexible. If you ever want to know what you can really live without, try it for a month. I have a hula-hoop for exercise (when it rains; when it's not raining I'm roaming the neighborhoods) and all my electronics, and one non-fiction book about Los Angeles smog that I'm having a hard time getting through.

I do have a washer and dryer, a beautiful pair of mid-priced front-loading white Samsungs I bought from Gus at Sears. They were delivered Thursday and I've already washed everything I can find to wash and can't wait until I have more laundry to do. I think up excuses to use them, to hear their little digital chimes, like tossing a wrinkled sweater into the dryer with my damp bath towel to work out the creases and beat off the cat hair. Fabric comes out pristine and fluffy, and I am inexpressibly happy. Having my own washer and dryer is the main reason I moved to California, you know.

That and, well, everything else. Brent (who will be here soon). The job (which is a whole other post altogether; rest assured it's going fine). The weather (which will surely be lovely when it stops RAINING). March was stressful, overwhelming, exhausting. April is a month of limbo, of exploring, of apprehension and anticipation.

I could write all night, but I really should get out of here before somebody gets suspicious. More to come.


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