San Diego Stories by Salvatore Filippone

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June 24, 2002

The Big Move

Boxes lay strewn across the room, full of my belongings, full of stuff I’d bought over the years. I’m a total packrat, and now I was paying for it. I always start out intending to clean house, but end up keeping everything. It’s going to take me forever to move this stuff, and to Old Town, no less. Moving can be a pain in the you-know-what.

By the time I was done loading my car, I was already tired. I was reminded of Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, riding along on top of the old jalopy in the Grapes of Wrath, as if my little VW were the old Model T. Hardly. I started off towards my new neighborhood, looking forward to getting the apartment set up. It was 7am and the city was wide-awake. Planes revved their engines hello from Lindbergh as I made my way down India St. Cars zoomed onto the 5 onramp, speeding into oblivion. The plates in the backseat rattled in sync with potholes. I can say that in the 20 years I’ve lived in Mission Hills, this particular portion of India Street seems to have managed to avoid any upgrades. That, or there are gremlins that come out after dark to swat holes into the asphalt.

Red light. I was almost there. San Diego Avenue is just past Washington, beginning where India ends. I realized that it’s just a short journey to civilization from my place, where the vitals are within walking distance: Mexican Food, coffee, and alcohol. People were already lined up at Valentines, getting their machaca and horchata, or perhaps some huevos rancheros. Gelato Vero’s regulars were out front, still waking up, injecting caffeine and bagels into their stomachs. I figured I might be one of those folks soon. I might even start hanging out over at Bar Dynamite, too. The light turned green.

I thought about all the places I’ve lived. The small flat I shared with a cousin in northern Italy, the room only a stone’s throw away from the beach in Florianopolis, Brazil. My little studio in Aix en Provence. What they all had in common was that they were chapters, temporary spaces to occupy before my eventual return to San Diego. I never had enough time to settle in and call them home. This time it’s a bit different. I’m reminded of an episode in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. It’s the part where Lenny asks George to tell him yet again about the little house they’re gonna have. I loved that part, but I never paid much attention to its meaning until now. Tiny as it is, I was finally moving into my own little homestead. Poor Lenny.

I pulled up in front of the apartment, and sat in the car for a few minutes looking around. I rolled the windows down and leaned back. I closed my eyes and listened to the cars speed by on the overpass. Just audible above the sound of rubber and concrete was that of a jet readying for takeoff. Off in the distance I heard somebody yell in Spanish.

Posted by sfilippone at June 24, 2002 10:08 PM