Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Inauguration Maps

I’m going to the Presidential inauguration, which is being held in this sprawling, well-manicured park. I’m supposed to stand on a particular street in this park to watch the parade go by, but I can’t find the street. Its name begins with the name of a neighborhood in the SF East Bay... can’t remember it now but it sounds like “Modesto.” I see a cop, wave to her, and ask if she knows where the street is. She’s a short, portly black woman wearing blue police slacks and a pale blue shirt. She has a badge and a police walkie-talkie that’s sputtering something unintelligible. She says, “All the streets that sound like places in the East Bay are up that way.”

She gestures toward a little bluff with paved streets and street signs, so I set off in that direction. There’s a map on one corner, like one of those “you are here” signs in a shopping mall. Can’t remember what happens next, but later...

I’m in an area of the park that’s more overgrown and wild, like a hilly forest. I walk across a small stream and look down at my hiking boots in the shallow water. The water is clear and cold, with small pebbles. I scramble up a slippery slope on the other side, through a tangle of young trees and bushes.

Later again...

I’m in a car with Dad and Uncle K. Dad is driving. Long, hilly, winding back country roads. We pass some farm houses and a big yellow Victorian building... like an old hotel or resort, very run down. Muddy front yard... some mud splattered on the dirty yellow clapboards.

Dad is driving down this long hill, aiming for a big, dilapidated hotel with a dark wooden doorway in the middle of the road. I say, “Dad, you’re driving too fast; you’re scaring me.” He's a bit embarrassed and slows down a little. We get to the doorway and suddenly the car is gone... we’re walking through the doorway... up this odd, rickety white ramp. Instead of stairs, there are black strips of old tires nailed to the floor - and you have to dig your toes in to them to keep from sliding back down. I’m wearing brown socks (no shoes for traction) and I'm worried about slipping and falling.

Further up, the ramp becomes a narrow stairway with white walls. At the top is a series of little rooms, like in an old house that’s been turned into some sort of office. Pale yellow 1920s rooms with gray baseboards and wide window sills... lots of modern, slightly beat up, dusty office equipment and old computers, papers cluttered on desks, chords and wires spaghettied around and over everything.

The last room is more like the living room of an old apartment. Comfortable old furniture, tables with family knickknacks. Mom is there. Dad and Uncle K are gone and I start to tell her where we’ve been. There’s a road atlas opened to a page showing the area we traveled through - I can see it clearly as I type this. I try to find a particular town or landmark we passed but can’t remember its exact name. It might be the name of the hotel. I do find the general area on the map, but either it isn’t listed or I can’t remember the name. Sorta frustrating.

A big truck growling down the street woke me up.

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