The walls are almost bare, some light fixtures don't work and my dresser has no knobs, so that each drawer can only be opened by scraping at its underside after pulling out the one beneath it--but it is lovely to be here, still. It's been one and a half years now since I have been in Vassar, and I appreciate it all more now, even the small things: the stream that runs by the path to the senior housing, the roundabout near Raymond avenue whose island has yellow flowers and a tall clock, my tiny rectangular mailbox. Each day is filled with so many different components and I like this, how busy it is. Yesterday it was only at four in the afternoon, when I sat down to eat a large sandwich at Babycakes, that I realized I hadn't stopped moving all day. This morning I tried to get into the Nabokov class (fail) and bought a bike (success!). It is blue and was ninety-nine dollars from Target. I never had a bike as a kid, so Evan had to teach me how to ride it. The thing is you can't stop--it is all about forward momentum, and hesitance usually results in a fall. I can only hop on, push down hard on one pedal and go!


corner store

I thought moving out of my apartment would be painful, and I think it was because of this--because I had been sort of premourning that moment--that it was okay. It was not so bad to part with the overgrown backyard, my room with its shelves of books and view of the garden, all of our strange refrigerator poems and Nora's potholders shaped like goldfish. They were, it turned out, just things. 

Now, for just over one week, I am back here:

Before driving to my Dad's house with the movers, I went to the corner store on Church to say goodbye to its owners, a father and two of his sons. Oddly, when I think of this year, it is the three of them I feel most nostalgic about. I came in a few times each week for avocados or coffee or granola, for which they often gave me discounts. Each time we talked in a pleasant, compartmentalized way, so that it almost seemed we knew each other.  Only one of the sons was working the day I moved, and when he came out from behind the register to hug me, I realized that I didn't know his name. I knew only observable details: that they are Middle Eastern, that they work all seven days of the week, and in January--because of the cards lining the counter--that their mother died. He asked me to come back, to write. He said I was a good person. Those words came out of nowhere--we had been talking about candy bars--and I felt undeserving of their kindness, their gentleness. Interactions with strangers so often feel transactional, and sometimes, I think, we have to be startled out of that, to be made aware of the potential for things to be otherwise. 

Now I am back in the Richmond, with its quiet and fog and home-cooked meals. I discovered a small bikram yoga studio on 25th avenue. A banner hung from the roof advertised $10 for 10 classes, and the impressiveness of this deal overrode how much I dislike to exert myself in hot temperatures. Work has finished for the summer, and this lull accommodates the undertaking of small things: walks with friends in Sutro Park, lunches at Q with my little brother, afternoons reading Austen. (It turned out that Northanger was a good pick after all! Now am starting on Emma and can't remember why I hated Pride and Prejudice so much in high school.) 


one's books, oneself?

This morning, a selection of books had been left on the trash can by the 38 bus stop. The stack began with an emphasis on DIY practicality--Single in a Married World and Dr. Phil's Love Smart: Find the One You Love, Fix the One You've Got--but rose optimistically. The One was followed by Living Serendipitously; on top was Expect a Miracle. The collection was pleasing to come upon because of its cohesiveness, however cliche--only Dialogue ("How to get your characters talking to each other in a way that vividly reveals who they are, what they're doing, and what's coming next in your story") and Grey's Anatomy (the book, not the TV show) were outliers. Still! I enjoyed taking photos of them until the 38 came, though the suited man waiting in the bus shelter gave me strange looks. 



It was trivia night at the bar, but we got there an hour late, so we nabbed a corner booth and tried to catch up. The questions were tough and I got most of them wrong, except for, Who wrote The Satanic Verses? (Rushdie) and, almost, the ones about the Giants. The bar itself had dark wood and many filled tables and a string of old Niners jerseys along one wall; the gender ratio leaned heavily toward men but still the place felt inexplicably cozy. The simplicity of having a source of action at which to direct my attention both excused and enabled conversation; I liked feeling equally free to talk or quietly observe. Later in the night we were told that Padma Lakshmi would be attending trivia night next week. We all have crushes on Padma and this, above all else, provided an incentive to return. 



At 2:30 I left to go to the library. The walk was about 30 blocks and I enjoyed it because I was talking on the phone to a friend. I wanted to read Villette or Shirley but the only Bronte they had was Jane Eyre, so I borrowed Northanger Abbey instead, which may or may not turn out to be a good substitution. After the library I had a food craving I could not pinpoint. Bought candy, but that wasn't right. In the candy store I asked to sample the red bean ice cream, thinking this might do it--nope, but closer. I thought of moon cakes, which we used to make in elementary school, and that sounded good, but not substantial enough, and that was when I realized: sesame balls! 

I had not had one in years and suddenly there was nothing else I wanted more. Most of the dim sum restaurants on Clement street were closing and their offerings were picked over--banana cake, almond cookies--but in a bakery across from Green Apple two sesame balls were left. I bought one and it felt decadent--glutenous, just chewy enough, and the size of a baseball--decadent too because it is something I rarely eat. On the bus to Elana's I read Northanger Abbey and felt sated.