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San Francisco Carnaval parade.

June 1st, 2003

The Willies Away
I drove over to Rockridge, where I lived when I moved here from Napa some nine years ago in the summer of '94. I haven't been there in a while, so I parked in the BART parking lot - very convenient - and walked past the old Lucky's (now Albertsons), Zachary's pizzeria (Chicago deep dish) and stopped for a burger at something new (to me) that calls itself a gourmet burger place. Nice. High ceilings, light, shaded patio in back, lots of wood and tile. Decent burger. Now and then you need a burger.

As I was sitting, waiting for my cheddar with no onions, sipping on a lemonade, I considered the people sitting around me. Various ages, old, young, women with small children, all of them colored in the same shades of pastel, the same pastiche, the same something or other I recognized from the place I grew up in the suburbs of New York City. Rockridge is getting more up scale, money around, not so much, but enough to attract up scale pastel bland and I'm thinking, well, whether or not my observations are accurate, that's what I'm seeing, that's what's coming through my filter. Another observer, with or without a camera, would tell another story.

So, what? Rockridge isn't going to change, I'm not going to change, so I'd better get along and find whatever place I'm looking for when I'm out of here in another five years. Drive up the coast one of these weekends (hut! hut!) find a place and make a down payment. Someplace with a nice medical facility chock full of electro cardiac devices and an emergency entrance, a place with a good lock on the door so I can climb into my Element (remember the Element?) and drive into the sunset chasing pictures.

It's not good to drive into the sunset when you live on the west coast. You know you won't lift a finger?

Well, yes. At least my visit to Rockridge didn't lead to another litany of "woe! woe! woe!" Your job, your life, your living arrangements can change in a minute. I keep repeating - "In a minute! In a minute!" - and I've been here nine years.

Rooted in Oakland.

Be nice. Oakland's OK. Still, if I were rational I'd look for something elsewhere, a small town, not too cold in the winter, not too far from water. Something funkier than Rockridge, off the beaten track, not too pastel and pale.

You're drifting.

Yes, yes. It's nice out, summer weather, light well into the evening. And a small town? It's a nice thought, I've had it before. Five years isn't very long, but anything can happen. It's kept me at the keyboard, though, this little story, this and the laundry, which is done now and sitting on a chair in the bedroom. That's what it's about, I suppose, a little contentment here, a little contentment there, a way to keep the willies away.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco Carnaval parade.