Strains of Chernobyl and Zombie Fish
My neighborhood is strange. Not a bad kind of strange, but still strange. A coworker dropped me off a mere four blocks away from where I had picked the bus up this morning and I may have been in another county than the one I left. The Alexandria, a theater I frequented as a student, was boarded up, but the smell of popcorn was still fresh and strong (for no logical reason at all, its clearly been out of commission for years, are the ghosts popping popcorn, or the Night People?). I stepped into a grocery store only to find all the labels were in Russian. The friendly cow that stared back from the dusty chocolate wafers still had an air of saturated social realism in her style. I couldn't tell if the fish in the bins were fresh or dried, either way, I didn't want to investigate, the smell was so forbidding (I saw a few fins poking out). The sky was flat gray (which is normal for the climate, this time of year) which was a bit of a letdown after basking in the sun in the Excelsior (a more colorful neighborhood on the Eastside that is protected from the foggy marine layer by the ubiquitous hills). Geary Street was colorless and the light was fading, but it wasn't dark enough for the streetlights to come on.
I ducked down a side street and walked a few more blocks until I came to the 15th Street Gate (named gates always make me think of medieval walled cities). I avoided this gate when coming home my first few days here because the abandoned VA Hospital dominates the view so completely that it looks like the road simply terminates at the parking lot. I had to stare at a map for quite a while before I was convinced the road led anywhere. When I walked by it my imagination filled its empty rooms with soldier's nightmares.
Eventually, my feet carried me up the big hill (a former monster sand dune transformed by man and time into a sylvan hilltop idyll) to my cozy little complex and my tiny room. On my way up, some plastic-fleece swaddled Bostonians asked me if "private" people could rent up here. They could have been from anywhere in America.
Where I taught art today, the Spicy Excelsior.