Journal

Sunday, May 31, 2020

We awoke and washed up and got in the car and and drove down Shattuck to the U-Haul dealership on MacArthur. It was in an abandoned area of Oakland next to the Bart line and we parked next to a Victorian house that must have once been beautiful but had since fallen into disrepair, boarded up and painted white and tagged with layers of bright graffiti. The weeds grew wild on the property and the sidewalk lots and styrofoam cups and plastic bottles and multilayer polymer chip bags laid amid the beds of grass. I waited in the car while Henry and Francis got the pickup truck and we drove back to Treehaven and loaded the bed with the mattress and the box foundation and the bedding and the futon and the disassembled desk and the three boxes of scattered items. We then drove both vehicles to Francis’s new apartment and Francis got the key from the landlord and we started unloading everything into his new flat. The apartment was in a modernist building that looked to be a few decades old stuccoed and painted in the drab beige that they often come in. The interior had been cleaned recently and the carpets were nearly spotless and the doors and trimming had been painted a bright glossy teal. The interior of the unit smelled of carpet cleaner and the windows had cheap aluminum frames over which the landlord had hung enormous vertical blinds, but the kitchen and bathroom looked newer than the building itself and the whole place was in much better repair than Treehaven ever would be after the past century of neglect. Francis’s roommate had arranged to pick up a sofa from someone and after we finished unloading we drove the truck to the building on Telegraph where they lived, and they let us in and we took the elevator up and entered their apartment which was shrouded in darkness and looked as if a tornado had blown through it and grabbed the pale green cushions and sofa from the far end of the room and made an abortive attempt to load the massive thing into the elevator and discovered it wouldn’t fit and Henry and two of the tenants took it down the stairwell while Francis and I descended in the lift with cushions in hand. We loaded everything into the truckbed and drove back and maneuvered it up the stairway of the building into Francis’s apartment, then returned the pickup back to Oakland.

We had not eaten since the night before and it was now past noon and we were hungry and tired. We drove back to Treehaven only to find we had lost the key, then ordered some crepes from Crepevine and waited outside while they made the food and drove it to Indian Rock to eat, reflective of the time a year ago when we had eaten deep dish pizza on this same rhyolite. We then drove back to the new apartment to search for the keys to no avail, and Francis called the Treehaven landlord and discovered that he had left a set hidden in some nook on the first floor of the building. We drove north again and got the keys and cleared the place out and returned the keys to their nook and drove again to the new apartment. When we arrived Francis’s roommate and his parents were parked on the sidewalk in front of the building. He was a quiet man with glasses and a shock of hair dyed blue and his parents were the archetypal Chinese parents, backs slightly hunched, the father in glasses and a hoodie and sweatpants, the mother with hair tied back. Because of the new social norms under the virus and the trouble with the lease-signing that they had caused I was less cordial with them than I otherwise would have been, and we moved things in silently and in parallel in an odd dance of unlocking the building door for each other.

After that we drove to the Richmond 99 Ranch and donned our masks and searched for the items that Francis wanted and that my mother wanted (king oyster mushrooms, napa cabbage, Shandong noodles, sesame oil) and called her several times and checked out and loaded the things into the car. We then stopped by the rental location to drop off the contract that we had left at Treehaven and attempted to do the online check-out process until we learned that they required mileage numbers that we could no longer access. We dropped the groceries off at the flat and drove Francis and his roommate off north of campus where they wanted to pick up a mirror and then we were finally on the way back home. We dropped by a family friend’s house in Cupertino to pick up some luobosibing and Portuguese custard tarts and ate a few on the road and stopped at a farm near Salinas to stretch our legs and taste the wind and take photos of the sunset and then we never stopped again until we reached Santa Barbara. When we got back it was nearly midnight and the morning activities seemed eons ago.

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