S D

San Diego!

That means tank top days. Shorts and jumps in the pool and the Wine Company.

That means La Jolla and Del Mar, but it also means Mira Mesa and Convoy.

It means choy lai fut, my kung fu brothers and sisters, and a bowl of pho afterwards. And Shanghai City for “dumplings with soup in the middle” – the hand gestures necessary.

It means tooling around in my candy apple red 87 Civic CRX, 5 speeds, and passing someone on onramp as I jerked that little kid I named Ana onto the freeway. Ana at first after Anaïs Nin, but later after the Bad Religion song because it fit her personality better.

It means Mike Halloran and Anya Marina on the old 94.9 playing music that didn’t suck.

San Diego where we’d get in my BMW and (I’m such not a ‘BMW guy’ but I loved my BMW) drive to Jesse’s and I’d had to sing the song to remember to turn on Chantilly Lace Road. (see?)

San Diego the time Jimmy came for a visit and I wore my crown to the Chinese restaurant and told them I was the king. And we took anyone and everyone to either Hamburger Mary’s or #1 on 5th, where you might get groped on your way to the men’s room and two nights in a row we took over the back bar with different groups of friends. And both nights laughing all the way home to see that I really did have a big jar of congealed duck fat in my refrigerator.

It mean Saturday morning at Caffe Calabria working on the novel over a double macchiato.

It means Saturday afternoon at the SDSU Library, third floor, third desk in the middle set of desks, next to the fiction section.

It also means Jenny and I walking home from the Pizzeria, or Arivaderci, or the Thai place, shivering and my teeth chattering in the moonlit night because I didn’t even own a jacket.

It means the time we carried our Christmas tree home from the nursery in Mission Hills. It means stumbling up the hill hand-in-hand from a night at the Casbah, yelling in the streets about the band we’d seen. It means the bike and taco shop rides and taking the Coaster to work.

It means breakfast at Chloe, lunch at Testa, dinner at The Link.

It means falling in love with our city neighborhood by neighborhood: First with Hillcrest, then with Wee Italia, then with North Park, finally with Golden Hill where my friend and writing co-conspirator Abbie Berry lived.

It means this paragraph I wrote out a hundred times until it degenerated into nonsense:

The next morning a fresh whim hits me. I’m on my way to Wee Italia to meet Owen, walking down Market because I’m don’t have $2.25 for the bus, when I feel the urge to skip. You get to this spot coming down off Grant Hill where our downtown’s oddly angled scrapers are arrayed in front of you like a palace of Suryavarman the Great. There are clean gaps where Market and Broadway flow arterially through the clusters of structures. On one flank is the Dog Dish, to the other the crenelated hump of Cortez Hill. Front and center, the twin sails of the Hyatt Towers yank the goodship Didadicus de Alcala into the Pacific, where a bank of fog hunkers off Point Loma.

It means the file I called ENCHILEDADA which opened in an app called Mellel which was the whole first draft.

It means all those poems I wrote trying to write like I thought I was Wallace Stevens (even dreamed of being punched out by Hemingway) and the painting of the Jacaranda I did in one hungover morning and which still hangs in our living room to this day.

It means sitting at a sidewalk table in Hillcrest or on Cortez Hill trying to conjure Paris. It means dreaming of the Pacific Northwest and all the oysters I can eat. It means sitting on the beach at North Torrey Pines after work with an oil can between my legs and a cigarette between my lips, looking out at the breakers, ‘I always go there when I can, thinking “Jonny, you are such a lucky man.”‘

Cause it’s true.

Smoke

I have immensely enjoyed
every cigar and cigarette and cigarillo that has ever
given me an excuse to stand on a street corner
Paris, France or San Francisco
Kettner Ave in San Diego
anywhere the red light of America
– or to squat
in my garden
in a light rain
to inspect my arugula
and to the see the first strawberry
of spring bursting from the box planter