A living place

Getting the move underway before even knowing where I'm moving, I bought thirty lawn-size trash bags and started filling them with my stuff. Most are getting filled with trash, though.

This whole household gets just two cans of trash a week, and with five of us, we always generate more than that. The routine is that we stash our excess trash in the dumpsters of a few nearby businesses. 

Three of us moving out isn't routine, so we've already filled all the dumpsters on this and the next block. Not sure where the rest of our trash is going to go, but I'm piling mine by the back door. When I'm gone, it'll be Judith and Jake's problem.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Moving is always a headache, and the short notice sucks, but for me it's que sera sera. Not for the other evictees, though. Cy and Joe are angry, and the flat's been full of arguments all day today.

Joe called Jake a bastard, and Jake replied, "Oh yeah, we're the bastards who invited you to live with us when you had nowhere else to go!"

A few hours earlier, Cy loudly said he'd pay the difference if the landlord raised the rent, and Jake hollered back, "Who'll pay the difference if you decide it's too expensive and move out in three months?" I didn't hear the answer-back. I'd closed my door.

I'm not one of the whiners. Things happen, and it's not like Judith & Jake conspired with the landlord to have Cy and Joe and me tossed out. It ain't their fault, and if we're not screaming at the schmuck who actually owns the place, then it's not worth screaming about.

The way I figure it, in a few days I'll be living somewhere else. Don't know where yet, except that it'll be a rez hotel, but does where even matter?

♦ ♦ ♦  

When I first came to San Francisco — jeez, five years ago — I took a tiny room in a cheap SRO hotel in the slums of the Mission, for $85 p/week. There was no deposit, and background check. No questions asked. If you have four twenties and a five, everyone's welcome at a rez hotel.

The Mission is a loud, rude neighborhood, with cheap burritos on every corner, a hundred thousand street characters, good things and bad, but the bad things only make the good things better.

At my first rez hotel there, in addition to the ordinary bums and lowlifes and Section 8ers, the manager rented rooms to hookers. Everybody needs a job and I don't judge, but the sound of uncaring sex pounded through thin walls, along with shouted arguments about money, before or after but never during.

So I moved to a different rez hotel, not quite as loud and rowdy, without the prostitutes. Then another rez hotel, to be closer to work. One time I switched hotels just to be a few blocks closer to the Roxie, since I was spending so much time at the movies there.

I liked the convenience of being smack-dab in the middle of the city, and loved the cheap rent, of course, and the colorful neighbors, and that I never needed to learn the manager's name — it's a different man at every hotel, but he's always Mr Patel. 

More than anything and everything, I loved the neighborhood — the Mission. Everything I'd want to do in San Francisco is there, or a quick bus or train ride away. It's almost literally a living place.

And it's a place of death. In the Mission District rez hotels I called home, three fellow residents were carried out under blankets — one dead by drugs, one dead by gunshot, and one killed by the flu.

Life is temporary, but if you don't do heavy drugs or major crime, and I don't, and take your daily vitamins, and I do, the Mission isn't much more dangerous than Pacific Heights. And it's a million times more interesting, with a much better class of people than the rich snoots on the hill.

And you know... Johnny Mathis comes to mind: 

I'm going home, going home.
Tell someone to meet me, I'm coming home.

Half an hour ago I typed that it didn't matter where I moved, but it started me thinking, and now I know that it does matter. Matters a lot.

Berkeley is nice, but living on the wrong side of the Bay has been an extended road trip. The Mission is where I belong. It's the only place I've ever felt truly at home, and it's the part of San Francisco where I left my heart.

From Pathetic Life #22
Thursday, March 28, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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