Places We’ve Lived
The deer skull and me:
San Francisco: Jared’s garage on 44th and Geary, out by the ocean. It was the height of the dot.com. I wanted a little cottage and realized his detached garage looked a lot like what I was imagining. I had to raise the electric car door, walk past the tools and motorcycle, push aside the velvet curtain, and there was my little room with chandeliers, fabric, and books.
San Francisco: My place on 40th and Balboa by the ocean where I lived with Allison and Marcia. I had a west-facing window and could just see a sliver of sea. It’s the most spare space I’ve ever kept: white walls, white comforter on my bed, dozens of clear blown glass balls hanging at various heights from the ceiling like bubbles. A flood of afternoon sunlight.
Los Angeles: That lush compound surrounded by concrete in the barrio, where planes flew low in the evenings over the hot tub while I sipped wine coolers made with Aguas Frescas from El Gallo Giro. That November I made a Day of the Dead altar, then took the bread I’d left for the Muertos to Venice beach and threw it by bits into the air, where it flew up and up into the sky carried by seagulls.
San Francisco: Back to 40th and Balboa. I’d walk along the ruins of Sutro Baths, get burritos at Chino’s (with extra lechuga), and Allison and I would take walks to the beach, and drives to Marin, talking for hours unravelling and re-weaving the world.
San Francisco: Up to 1 Edward street, the one-block street by Fulton and Arguello in the old undertaker’s house that was right next to the park. I’d walk to the Japanese Tea Garden an hour before close when it was free to get in, walk through the Botanical Gardens. The de Young was closed for renovation that year.
Park City: Into the little log house way up on the mountain. It was so far from the beach and the city. The woods felt like a language I didn’t speak.
Oakland: My studio by Lake Merritt that I made into a one-bedroom by putting my mattress in the closet. It wasn’t far from CCA and the art studios where I spent a good portion of my week taking drawing classes. Most of the rest of my time was spent at the Potrero campus where the writing and craft classes were held. I spent a lot of time working in that apartment, and when I’d get stuck on a story, I’d walk around the lake and almost always have the answer by the time I got home. Every Saturday I’d head over to the farmer’s market under the overpass, and then up to Arizmendi bakery where I’d get a cherry cornmeal scone which I would take back to the studio and have with a pot of apricot tea. My window faced a brick wall, but the breeze blew in from the bay and I could hear the sounds of the traffic and the people out walking around the lake.
Park City: My house in the woods. I think it takes several seasons before you start to parse the accent.
Oakland: They had this pinyon pine incense at the farmer’s market that reminded me of camping in the high deserts of Southern Utah.
Park City: I’d go camping and burn pinyon branches and it reminded me of my studio in Oakland.
Oakland: It was heaven, that rhythm. That migration.
Park City: My house. This went on for some time.
Salt Lake: My loft at Artspace in downtown Salt Lake City. It was the best writing office. This is the space in the photo. The black brick wall used to be an exterior wall of the old ZMCI warehouse.
Park City: For several years the deer skull sat in a bookshelf on a pile of silver and grey books, including three copies of Lolita, none of which I’ve read.
Sugarhouse: The skybox. My suite in this old house has a screened-in porch with windows on three sides and an amazing view of the sunrise over the Wasatch. Currently, the deer skull is resting like a rickety, jagged oversized egg a top a bird’s nest I found in my backyard when I was an undergrad. All of my things are crowded around me like they are the nest and I am the egg.