February 28th, 2021

caillebotte_man at his window

Reset Seventeen, Day Nineteen

Saturday afternoon I went outside and a stiff breeze was blowing, and suddenly I felt like I was in two places at once, but I was unable to identify the other place. Some place I once was, some place I dreamed of, some place I wished to go? Wind will sometimes do that— blow the present away and bring a swirl of vague memories, or something that seems like memory. But Chico failed to vanish, and no other distinct place appeared, and after a moment the breeze died down and left me sitting in the narrow back yard with the high fence that hides everything but the tops of nearby trees and the utility poles that line the bike trail. I don't know if I was relieved or disappointed. Maybe both.

The rest of the day was pretty much an anticlimax to whatever had almost happened. I checked the empty mailbox, microwaved a bowl of ramen instead of fixing dinner, and played a bunch of music videos on YouTube. I was able to turn them up as loud as I wanted, since the apartment on the other side of my wall is vacant again. Then I did something weird. I finished of four dill pickle slices that were in the refrigerator, and then took a sip of the brine. I liked pickle juice a lot when I was a kid, and I still sip a bit now and then when I eat the last pickles in a jar, but tonight I kept going back to the jar every few minutes and sipping more. There was probably ten or eleven ounces left in the jar, and it's now down to about two ounces. For some reason I just couldn't resist it. I'll probably drink the rest before I go to bed. I hope I don't get sick. I never have before, but I don't think I've ever downed half a jar of the stuff before. Damn, that's a lot of sodium.

Last Monday, February 22nd, an era came to an end. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti died, at the age of 101. Founder of San Francisco's now-venerable City Lights Books and its pioneering publishing arm, City Lights Press, Ferlinghetti was probably the central figure in what has come to be called the San Francisco Renaissance, the outburst of literature, music and art which emerged in the city in the 1950s, and which was closely associated with the "beat generation" writers. Over the last couple of decades the writers from that movement have died one by one, but Ferlinghetti outlived them all, unless you want to include the poet Gary Snyder, who has been much more closely associated with California's environmental movement than with the urban literary scene. Ferlinghetti's bookstore has survived as well, and is still a place you can find both classic literature and the latest work of rising writers. Long may it thrive, a living memorial to its founder.

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