I don’t know if it’s the alignment of the stars and planets or what, but I’ve been living beneath a dark and humid constellation anyway. I have felt a heaviness pushing me down. And the other night I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, and so I did what I usually do when I need to comfort myself, which is to go on a long walk. I walked from Lake Merritt up Grand Avenue and then cut over to Telegraph and headed in the direction of Koryo Sushi, thinking it would make me feel a little better to sit down there. But on my trek through the dark I felt a sort of sadness all around me that was unshakeable. It seemed like everyone was suffering the same hell as me and it gutted me to realize that. I walked by so many small tragedies that you’ll see on any given night on certain parts of San Pablo and Broadway and Telegraph and Shattuck . . . people living beneath bridges and sleeping in the doorways of empty buildings that were places I remembered going to a long time ago now when they were still something. To bear witness is to absorb the sorrow of it. It put me in a rotten mood. Finally I got to the neon signs outside of Koryo, and I went in and sat down at the table where I always sit by myself, and I felt cheerless and lonely and I wished that anyone at all was sitting across from me. It was difficult to not think about all the nice nights I had spent there during better days. A black streak of terror shot down my spine when I considered that my life had become a series of perfunctory gestures drained of all meaning, and that I existed now out of habit alone. Not wanting to think anymore just then, I finished my tea and got up and went outside where it was cold as hell. I walked to 40th and foolishly turned right, figuring I would walk up MLK to get home so that I could pass Eli’s beneath the overpass and look inside and see if I knew anyone there. And I thought also I would walk by Emma and Daphne’s and see if there was a light on in their window. By the time I got to Eli’s the place was mostly empty and there was no point in going inside. Someone screamed at me from the darkness of the overpass and I kept walking towards the skyscrapers of downtown Oakland until finally I was back on Grand. Somehow the walk had made me feel worse. I tried to think of another time I had felt such a way at the end of a walk but couldn’t remember any. Three blocks away from my apartment I turned to look at the trees by the lake and froze there on the sidewalk. There on the grass stood the albino raccoon. I could hardly believe it. We gazed at each other for a while, and then four of his little brothers scurried out of a bush and stood beside him and watched me too. The albino raccoon sat down and started grooming himself while his family scavenged the tall grass around him and I let them alone and walked home.