Saturday, February 02, 2008

Key


i drew a map of the neighborhood i grew up in. well, that isnt entirely true, if it were id have drawn a map of most all of San Francisco. what i drew was a map of the blocks between Haight and Fell and Webster and Scott in San Francisco, California. i did pretty much grow up there, though. between the ages of 2 and 15 i lived in three different houses within that small 5 block radius. but the transformative moments were quiet and dull, the slow moving processes of maturity. so i dont think the assignment was very successful.

i made notes of the landmarks in my childhood from that particular area in the city, drawing small icons to punctuate the places and their architecture and writing numbers next to each one. because i was trying to work out memories from this exercise, i created a key. it is this key that i will share with you. the map, unfortunately, will have to be substituted by your imagination.

1. This is where I lived on Oak in between Fillmore and Webster. I lived with my mother then. It was our longest stretch together. Some genuine years. It was the only time she worked while I was living with her. Her job was at a homeless shelter. She was a social worker of sorts. I think we were there 3 or 4 years. I’m pretty sure I lived there between the ages of 8 and 11. The years were formative. There was a lot of break dancing and Michael Jackson and rap music and small time criminal mischief. But eventually it broke down and I had to put myself in a group home.

2. These were the Page Street projects. I pretty much avoided them for whatever reason, but every time I did venture in it was remarkable to me just how much nicer the apartments were than mine. There were VCR’s, cable TV, food in the fridge and brand name too. I had this sick desire to move into the projects because it was, of all things, luxurious. It is also where I once bought a nickel bag of weed from a tall lanky kid in a tracksuit for my mother, and I shoved it in my pocket so deep that the bag broke and she had to pull my pockets all the way out to pick all the broken leaves from the lint.

3. (corner of Haight and Fillmore) This was the first apartment I ever remember living in. my mother was a little younger than I am now, if I'm doing my math correctly. I remember little things. Mostly trivial, pop culture shit. The theme song to Taxi. falling asleep in my mothers arms on a mattress on a floor while watching Saturday Night Live. Rick James. Rappers Delight. Crying at a movie theater during A Clockwork Orange. My first Christmas getting the game Hungry Hungry Hippos (I think I only played it once.) Being lost in the building and not panicking and staying at a neighbors house until my mother found me.

4. This is where the Walgreens was. I forget what year it was built, but it was a big deal when I discovered it. I think it was my first encounter with a corporate megamart type store. They had everything. From school supplies to coca cola to walkmans and digital watches. I stole my first piece of candy there. I got away with it once and did it again and got away with it a second time. I was afraid to push my luck though, and didn’t give it a third go round.

5. There was this little store here, they sold Merit Ultra Lights for ninety cents. I'm not sure if my mother talked to the guy at the store or what, but I used to go in there every few days and buy a pack of smokes for my mom when I was about 4 years old.

6. This is where my friend Lenny lived, long after I’d left and then returned to the neighborhood in my early twenties. I nursed a pretty mean party habit at this house. It was surrounded by drug dealers and bars and record stores.

7. This is my second home on Oak street, the one in between Pierce and Scott. This was between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. At this stage, I was pretty much taking care of myself. I hardly ever stayed there. She was always in some state. Eventually I showed up one day and there was an eviction notice on the door. I broke in and grabbed as much of my clothes as I could then hiked it to my best friends house, where I stayed until I was sent to Washington State to live with my aunt (and where the story begins).

8.This was the block I played on while I lived on Oak and Fillmore. It was very normal. I was just a regular porr kid in a slightly impoverished neighborhood. We had action figures and staged wars, we played hide and seek in the porch bushes, and football in the street.

9. This is where Moe lived. I don’t think that was his real name, but that’s what we called him. I remember hanging out on his porch and one day calling him a chauvinist pig (for one reason or another, I have no idea, I was nine years old), and him calling me a nerd and me sort of realizing I was one. What kind of nine year old calls their friends chauvinist pigs? The nerdy kind, that’s who.

10. This is where Tweekin records was. I spent a lot of time and money there.

11. This is where a bar called Auld Baron (thats not really the name of it, but I cant remember what it was called, but phonetically, that’s what it sounds like) was. One of the many circling Lenny’s place. I developed a severe taste for Guiness at this bar. For a while I believe I lived solely on the protein provided by a pint of Guiness rather than food. Of course, I didn’t eat much then.

12. This is where a place called The Alamo Hotel lie. I only remember this hotel because my mother specifically told me that if ANYBODY ever invited me into The Alamo Hotel I should just turn and run. It never happened, but if it were to, I would have.

13. This is the where the fence was I would climb over to break into my house on Oak and Scott. I think I would lose my key a lot. It worked out though, because I knew exactly how to get in when I needed to get my clothes after we were evicted.

thats it. ttyl. kit. omg. bff!

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.