I would say it was someone I’d once flipped off in an intersection but I haven’t been back in the Bay Area long enough for that, I don’t think.
This afternoon, on my way to San Francisco to shoot photos and see a studio for rent, I received a call from Soledad. I originally thought she was a man for some reason, something in her written voice and my lazy scanning in place of reading. However, Soledad was a young woman, an artist from the city with an extra sunny southern Berkeley room to rent who’s craigslist ad I had responded to a few day earlier. Soledad had been using the studio room as a work space but needed extra money to pay the bills. The ad included a long, intricate questionnaire which I answered with diligent thumbs and many backspaces on my iPhone.
We corresponded a few days and I finally was able to drop by today on my way to the city. However once I arrived and had just walked by a window of the blue, rundown place, still not sure if I had arrived, she called me on my phone:
“sorry claudia don’t bother coming here I dont think it’s going to work out” she said in a singsong voice.
“but why…” I started to ask but she had hung up. And I peered in the window. An easel, a few paintings, a photograph of a smallish girl with queer punk Mohawk hair and nose rings.
I looked at the other room and called back. No answer but a cat jumped up o the barred window, big and hairy grey with a look of pretention and malice. Animals do tend to mirror their owners in mood and behavior. I rediscovered the original craigslist ad. Some pics, info about the room, the questionnaire and a brief but informative paragraph about the girl Soledad: “ROOMMATE: I co-founded a non-profit in 1999 that I run and am studying for the California Bar. I am a queer, late-20’s, multicultural, multinational, biofemme, bilingual native Spanish-speaker from San Francisco.” Since I didn’t get a reply with a proper explanation and was basically rejected at first sight I felt a little ego bruised and then relieved. Another roommate hassle negated even before a proper meeting. I ben saw a photograph of either the owner or someone she would approve of if looks counted so much. Queer? Well Im not that. White? Yes. Biofemme? Maybe I don’t appear to be that either, because I’m not really sure what that is but I imagine dreadlocks and hemp sweaters. Ok my multicultural bigot. I found myself curious about this Soledad. Why the art of herself and the photo of herself in the empty room? Because it was her right? And did she intend to leave it there when the successful stranger moved in? Did she want someone to worship her? Another biofemme? A multicultural queer?
It’s a really hot day and between all of the mixed social encounters I’ve experienced in the past week or rather past two months, I’m feeling faint and dizzy. Me lately: attracting lots of men, older men, wicked roommates comedian dad sleeping and snoring in my room for a week, the argentinean neighbor translator with the wine and pot…and younger men, the AAU film students, the Asian business man with the barage of questions like a match.com for unassuming strangers.
I’ve never liked surveys from bar flies. And I’ve never been good at rejection whether from basket case roommates or mysterious queers on craigslist. A turtle could reject me and I’d be offended…and a man like aforementioned mutton roommate’s visiting new jersey dad can whisper in the night while roommate showers: “don’t say anything this is between us but I think you are really cool…and you’re really pretty” and I am flattered but mostly disconcerted and anxious to have my own home again, but relieved I haven’t been rejected.
I like the fog city. It keeps me in a thick of humidity that feels comfortable. Cloudy me. I want to be washed clean and hidden away into a sacred spot of fog. Maybe I’ll discover that spot today. I’m waiting at a coffee shop playing Gypsy kings, drinking a cardamom iced coffee and reading Kundera’s “the book of laughter and forgetting”. One passage reminds me of the empty room with the art of Soledad, except here art is replaced with language. Yet today we live in a visual age rather than a literary one. But here is the passage: “in the era of graphomania…everyone surrounds himself with his own writings as with a wall of mirrors cutting off all voices from without.”