Illinois

This past week, I took a day and went on an adventure.

Some call this an Artist's Date.

So, I had an artist date with myself,
and enjoyed getting to know the city
in which I've come to live.

San Francisco.

I've been reading a great book on her
called Cool Gray City of Love by Gary Kamiya.
And it's been wonderful.
Just wonderful.

The history of SF
- both recent and far past -
is phenomenal and Kamiya speaks into the nuances
of this city so finely and seemingly so acutely
that I now have memories as I walk down the streets.
As if somehow, I were a part of them.

I thought I was going to a place called SCRAP.
(Yes, it rhymes with the word cr%$.)
I'd like to think of it as a recycled mixed-lot of goods.

My friends who call themselves artists
love this place.
In fact, when I was looking at something,
I overheard someone share how she's prepping for a show in
some museum of some contemporary art.

I felt right at home here.
Perhaps it reminded me of my father's garage
or my grandmother's house,
(on my mother's side)
but I felt right at home.

I was also surprised at how organized it was
for being a mixed-lot of
you-never-know-what-you're-going-to-find.

I loved it.
Even, the Photoslides of Disgusting Feet.

I had no rhyme or reason to go other than
it was my rhyme and reason to go.

And, I was looking for a shutter.
A big one that would be home to
budding succulents on my porch.

When I finally asked if they carried such items,
the woman said, "We're too small of a place for things like that,
but here's a map to get you to a place just like us, but for those things."

This place was so organized that I swore teachers ran it.

I had been looking for a place like the one I thought I was about to find,
and I was stoked with enthusiasm in my rent-by-the-hour car.

Driving through deserted areas,
home to sprawling, empty intersections
- the kind with no stop signs and gravel at the edges -
I wondered if I was in what Kamiya called "The Dead City,"
a part of San Francisco that is a dead zone.

I wasn't quite for sure since he explored a particular area
within The Dead Zone,
and I knew I wasn't in that.
(There was no big gate that said "Do Not Enter.")

I kept driving on and found what I was looking for
BUILDING RESOURCES.

Though, I never found the sign
until I had a view of its tin roof.
It was painted in letters that could have easily
filled up one of those abandoned intersections.

This was home to not streets,
but long stretches of unmarked roads
which included gullies and the blurred edges
of where roads meet concrete wastelands.

I was in a different world.

"So this is where the reality lives like cement trucks," I thought.
They came in by the numbers as if they were ants
lined up,
fresh off the streets,
and their jobs,
needing more, more, more,
one right after the other.

(Did you know California has something like 20-some cranes
and 20-some cranes are here in San Francisco alone?)

I was witnessing a reverse anthill:
coming back to the mother mound
only
to take stuff out
rather than put something in,
like dirt.


Roaming around in BUILDING RESOURCES,
I found what I needed - the perfect biga#@ shutter -
for only $20. 
I realized later I bet I could have bargained. 
(Note to self next time.)

I then managed to get the shutter in my rent-by-the-hour car,
picked up a postcard for their next open house gallery (yes there is a gallery inside!)
and meandered my way back, following the signs for trucks since only trucks lived here
(and a deserted yellow bus way down the road).

But before I did, there was a moment.
A beautiful moment I will never forget.
After coming around the bend within their vast "yard"
of windows, huge metal scraps, and who knows what else,
I heard the trees rustle,
I felt the sun shine,
and I heard nothing.

Nothing.

No cars,
no highways,
no conversations.

No metal clanging,
or the usual sounds from the orphaned objects.

I immediately knew what this felt like:
Illinois.

Where the sun beats down,
the trees speak to each other,
where there is a song between the bees, birds, and wind.

There was this glorious moment where I had never
felt so akin to California than I did in that quiet pocket
where stillness met presence in my surroundings.
Where familiarity budded, bloomed, and rooted
right in the middle of an ir-root-able place.

I then went on and back in my car,
- turning right because that's what trucks do -
I wondered what road I was on,
and swiveling my head around,
I saw I was on Illinois.