8.15.2009

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.) 

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