Wednesday, October 23, 2013
THE SOFTGROUND CA FAE: OAKLANDISH (Questing, 2 or 4)
Lake Merritt, sunset
Time Travel: I arrive in downtown Oaktown on a brisk October evening. Walking down San Pablo Ave, I pass Frank Ogawa Plaza and find it empty. There is a store that sells Oakland merchandise: "Oaklandish." I like the nebulousness of this new city motto. After a stop at a pizza joint I pull myself and my bags to Lake Merritt to watch the sun set.
For the time I have spent here Lake Merritt seems to be the regerative spirit of the city. Runners, human-walkers, dog-walkers, and boaters all converge here and of course it is a multi-cultural mix. Cute pug. Cute corgi. Happy ducks. Fishy smell. An inspired impromptu a capella band sings a new song. My Cali-seeking city-folk friends (you know who you are) will love this place. For me, a few twisty live-oak trees and a pretty sunset temper the cool breeze. Like in "The City," one must keep moving and go with the wind. Across the lake (which is fairly polluted still) is a wooded area with a sign "FAIRYLAND" that stirs my curiousity. Hopeful, I trudge over with my bags and at a closer look read "Children's FAIRYLAND" and the trees conceal a theme park which is closed. Grr. However, giant tablets with "One upon a time" and "Happily ever after" and a giant dragon-thing made of leaves guard a sweet grove of large live-oaks (the city's mascot) which one could play and sleep under....
It is now dark and I find myself in the shadows of the live-oak branches. There are folks lying nearby; they might be asleep or awake. A man walks by as light hits my shadowy bliss and he asks me if I am "moving out." "Of where?" I ask, taken by surprise.
"Of the park," he replies.
This makes my evening. From this point, I feel fairly safe and work a sweat hauling my baggage around downtown. At the bus station, I meet a Tunisian man and we chat about our travels and historic Carthage which feels like a strange parallel.