Dear College Preparatory School Alumni Newsletter
Sun in Cancer, and the nostalgic vapors and exhalations of spring all dried up for the scorched-grass season. I’d like to go slack under the hot sky, like my daughter, but we have tasks.
I published my book (and mouthed off about it elsewhere so I don’t have to do it here). I don’t want to make it out to be more than it was, and really don’t want to minimize the efforts of everyone who helped it along. I know what the next one will be, another novel (possibly I’m not cut out for anything but novels), but for the last few months I’ve been making sketches at the edge of the diving board rather than fish out a paragraph I could admit to.
Circumstances have abetted. Our little duplex by the train tracks got sold out from underneath us to a couple from Albany, who seem to have paid an actual million dollars for the privilege of being our new landlords. Why on earth? Apparently the answer is that they’re going to tear out the back and rebuild it on a more expensive scale. Everyone wants three bedrooms (only cowards stop at one child). But before the city permits get approved, we are fled, and after some very fast talking have landed three miles north at the extreme heliopause of BART service and KALX reception. We bought the place—a fact so fraught in this area, where it’s so depressingly certain that every time you meet someone new, the conversation will turn to the cost of housing within ten minutes. I always see it coming and I can never head it off. Anyhow, for my petty qualms I get a proper office at last, a yard overlooking a church parking lot where they're installing a preschool, on the other side a hill where the rooftops pile up like Cézanne’s views of Gardanne. In this neighborhood houses are priced by their “views,” and we don’t have one of those views, but our slope is high enough that when you go outside you find the wind tossing around tree canopies with great freedom.
(This is boring, the cult of the house is boring. Also satisfying, and therefore dangerous.)
So inside we decorate, filling it with ourselves—and just the other day I was complaining that the coastal metropolises are now enormous arenas in which to meet yourself over and over. You can’t be surprised. But in the house I do get surprised. After so many years packed in with everyone breathing on everyone else, it’s weird to lose track of the other organisms (now two humans, one cat) that share the larger space—they might have gone outside, or gone to sleep, or installed themselves in some new closet, without any of it showing up on sonar. The long, narrow interior corridor has no windows of its own, and I enter the dim space never quite confident of what I’ll find at the end.
I also went to Japan, but wait a moment.