Four Aches

I saw a coyote last night. I was standing at a bus stop near San Francisco State, a bus stop I have never stood at before, leaving an event filled with many folks whom I hadn’t seen in years. It was dark, though only about 6PM, and raining mistily. There were two other people waiting, all of us in our own worlds under umbrellas and hoodies. I was zoning out, and came to when I saw a coyote running down a median strip of grass, fast, focused, and maybe a bit scared. I must have made a noise, because one of my fellow bus stoppers looked up at me. Coyote, I said. We watched it lope down the median, then cross the street. A car was coming. I think I whined. The car stopped, and it ran onto the sidewalk, continued for a bit. The car sat there for a while, then continued. I watched the coyote, now a long block away, cross again, both sides of the median now, safely to the other side, and run up a hill. I knew it was entering the SFSU campus, and I hope it went to some of the wilder parts there, away from cars and humans and artificial light and concrete. It left me feeling guilty and sad and worried and like all I wanted in the world at that moment was that coyote and all the coyotes it knows to be free and have fun and hunt and eat and be alive and be coyotes. I wound up chatting with my fellow bus stoppers about animals and water and random stuff, and it was that good conversation you can only have with strangers you’ll never see again. The bus lumbered up, all wet and crowded, and we each got on to go about our lives. Thank you coyote.

I miss Either Or Bookstore in Hermosa Beach, one of the most important places of my life from about 8th to 12th grade, so from ages 13 to 17. I spent so many hours in that rickety, oddly-angled place, reading all the things, hanging out, sitting around, escaping from a middle and then high school life that continually left me supremely unsatisfied. I never spent a lot of money, and they never cared. Something hit me this morning, and I miss that place like I might miss a person.

My paternal great-grandmother died when I was 14. I was lucky to know her, but damn I wish I could go back to inhabit younger me for a minute and talk to her and hear more stories. I became a memory keeper for my family, a family which excels at living in the present, but back then I didn’t know what I didn’t know I would later want to know. I may never know. Related: My maternal grandfather, also a keeper, would have been 100 yesterday.

My right knee.


My great grandmother and fellow fam. Brooklyn in the 20s.

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