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.)