A Blustery Day

This is the age of discomfort. This is age period. The discomfort is bodily, although it feels situational. One must go down to the shops again.

The morning has been full…waking too early and worrying about my van…then a visit from Perry, home physical therapist. Why worry about the van? Because in the midst of all this flux, worry is what’s happening. The target doesn’t matter. The background level of fear remains constant. I fear driving the van…and I fear not driving it and, as recently happened, depleting the battery to a dangerous level. Here ‘dangerous’ refers to starving the electronics. They lose their memory, you know. And to regain it, they have to go to Fremont, California. It’s a little-known but powerful fact of technological life.

In my youth, I would bound out the door…yes, even a neuromuscularly impaired bounding…quite impervious to San Francisco weather. Particularly in an era of walking everywhere with a stick, there was enough muscular activity to keep warm. Not now. I can’t quite face the fact that the cold, even the temperate cool of San Francisco in May, gets to me. The wind in particular. Still, I have a way of rolling out the door and into our neighborhood insufficiently attired. This morning being no exception, I embarked upon errands wearing a cotton pullover. Not quite enough. And what I need to remember is that there is a subtle draining quality to this. It’s fatiguing rolling about Glen Park in the wind. I’m old. That’s how it is.

The man in the pet shop wears a dress, a nice necklace and a curious blond coif. His 5 o’clock shadow is particularly pronounced, making me wonder what he’s trying to pull off. But not too much, the wondering, that is. Let him pull whatever he wants to. We are on friendly terms by now, my missions for canned dog food being frequent enough. In the bakery, I find not only the same stunning chocolate chip cookies I found the other day but a familiar man, Les. We have chatted once before, and now he tells me his name is actually Wes. Whatever. He reads the Financial Times and drinks coffee. I consider lingering to chat again, then I decide against it. I have things to do, promises to keep, and two blocks to go before I…get my nails done.

Yes, here as in Menlo Park, there is a nail salon run by Vietnamese immigrants. In San Francisco where I am not known the experience proves to be more impersonal, but faster and considerably cheaper. Why this should be, no one can say. I push on, thinking I will find everything I want today, even a place to get my hair cut. But no, nothing but fashionable looking salons. I just want my hair cut, thank you very much. Styling, blowing and nourishing are unwanted at this or any age.

I roll past the salon, and find myself in a curiously level and open neighborhood. Glen Park, known to locals as the canyon, is close in distance but far in flavor. The 280 motorway hums nearby. This accounts for both the levelness and the openness. The businesses on this part of Monterey Boulevard run to Asian variants on fast food and coffee. All are empty. The affluence wave rolling across San Francisco is only lapping at these shores. Still, it’s not far away.

In fact, it’s in the Canyon Market, where there appears to be a 1-1 ratio of staff to customers. A man in the wine department tells me that he has the perfect accompaniment to lamb shank. Jane has asked me to buy four of these, which represents a total amputation of a quadruped. I watch the Canyon Market butcher wrap up four lamb shanks. Surely I’ve got this wrong. No, I re-read Jane’s note. Four. Outside it’s still cold. I am still old. And it’s time to head home.

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