I don’t know why but for the last six or seven months I was in Oakland I kept thinking I needed to be near the East Coast. Hell, I don’t even particularly like the East Coast. It’s crowded and dirty, near as I can tell. I mean I grew up here. I always remember thinking, “It’s really crowded and dirty here, huh.” But while I was on the other coast, I thought I needed to be near some vague idea of “home,” or whatever.
And, well, here I god darn am, and the sentiment is the same as it always was. I have no home anymore. That’s no hyperbole either! I don’t like it here at all. Not one bit. Maybe I was lying to myself the whole time because I didn’t like my situation. But then when is that not the case at least a little bit???
I have lived in the East, and in the South, and I have lived West too. I prefer it over there. Lord, I forgot what people were like on the East Coast. They’re very cold and closed-off and materialistic and career-driven. They move from one controlled environment to the next (home, car, store, car, other store, car, home). Say what you will (I have done my fair share) of the West Coast’s “Haaaaah yeaaaahh duuudddeeeeeeee” mentality, but hell, at least those people aren’t afraid of you, or afraid of doing things they’ve never done before. I mean I’ll give them that.
My first year in Oakland I vacuumed the heck out of it all. People were always inviting me places—inviting me into their homes when they barely knew me! I remember I met this girl named Liza. She could play like every instrument. I used to go to her shows. Anyway the first day I ever met her we got drunk and watched ‘The Princess Bride’ on a projector screen in Dolores Park. Then we went to this terrible party where I maybe shouldn’t have said to her, “Why do you hang out with these people? You’re way too smart for these people.” Then she took me back to her house and we fell asleep watching ‘Spirited Away’ on her laptop! I woke up the next morning at 7 a.m. and had to rush to my job in Berkeley by 8 a.m. Before I left I woke her up, and she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and I left. Isn’t that nice? There is no way that would happen where I am now. Not in a million god dang years. And that’s just one example of literally hundreds of a stranger being Down For Stuff!
Listen: I would never say I “belong” somewhere, or that I am “amongst my people” or some crap like that. But at least no one ever looked at me like I had a dick growing out of my forehead. People were genuinely cool with most everything. The worst thing that could ever happen was someone didn’t like you. They weren’t going to hang you in a city square because you had some glitter on your face though.
I remember one time I was working at Donut Farm in North Oakland, and I stepped outside as I often did and just stood there arms akimbo, surveying the weird dumb landscape. A girl with blue Sonic the Hedgehog fin-hair rolled by me on a skateboard. And I thought, “Hell yeah, man. Sure.” I gave her a thumbs up.
I am not going back to Oakland. Oakland chewed me up. It was fun but I have been chewed up enough for now. I need to pop back into my natural shape before I can be crunched and slammed and chewed again. But hell, I am going back to the West Coast. It ain’t perfect, but it made more sense to me than anything else. Yeah.