The House on the corner of California and Hyde

The sign on the building shouts that this is the bottle you want to drink on the bay. Wind whips up the dust and tempers of the city into a delicate mixture of chilled discomfort, iced, served straight through the thickest part of the day. The sign on the building advertising it’s amber liquor is set high above the WreckRoom, a neighborhood juke joint, the kind of place that has usually has a sweaty hard drinking crowd but for now sits sadly forlorn, without meaning.

We are all wrecked, just alone in our spaces, waiting for relief. I wonder what about that bottle is just right for the bay. Is the same bottle emblazoned across walls in Tennessee with ‘Perfect for listening to Elvis and country music.’ I find this dissembling disturbing. As we walk up the street we pass a group huddled around a boom box, adults and children, a baby staggering milk drunk down the sidewalk. A deep funk hits me anachronistic. For a second I could almost think that life was good, that I could walk into a house, and watch Fame on the TV set, adjusting the aerial with books and curse-words trying to get a good picture to stick, pulling out a frozen ice pop from the fridge to take the heat out of the late afternoon. Life will never be that hopeful again, not that full of possibility. Life is set now. Life is set solid around me. This is life. This dust, and booze and dive joints, this wind, this ruined world closing in on me.

I want to turn around and ask the group of people gathered in a tight knit group around some music, I want to turn around and ask them if they will let me into their life instead. Perhaps I can walk through a door of a house on the corner of California and Hyde, and flop down upon the couch and I will be 12 again, with life all ahead of me and nothing much behind. Perhaps this house on the corner of California holds some Narnia-type magick that will let me try all this again. My children waiting to be born. My life waiting to unfold. My mistakes yet unmade. There is a wild comfort in possibility. All my possibilities are closed down. A giant sarcophagus of time built around me.

A man walks past cradling a corgi. It will not walk any further. A woman walks two huskeys and laughs at him. I think how happy they could be together, this woman with two fast dogs and this man with one lazy one. They have something to teach each other. The corgi looks blissful in the arms of his master, stares up at him adoringly. The dog is too fat. It needs to lose weight. The man doesn’t care about the heaviness of the dog. It is his armor against a world that blows toxic dust in your face and pushes whiskey down your gullet. The woman runs past, fleet foot, a stream of light, her dogs sinew and muscle pulling her towards some different conclusion. She needed to slow down and watch for broken glass. You can get hurt without even knowing it.

I pass the house on the corner of California a second time. I have an impulse to go try the door, see if it will open and let me in. Let me in. I chuckle at the thought of pulling the door closed, and drawing the curtains around the building. I chuckle, but know this house isn’t mine, not in this reality or the next.

I cross the road, as I wait a junkie starts stamping his feet and shouts bitch in my direction. I want to push my fist through his face but manage to cross the road away from his intentions. I need to shut my door against the world. I need a cocoon. It is cold today, and it it is not the wind chilling me to the bone.

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