The great transition has occurred. I am officially no longer a San Franciscan and now an inhabitant of the much maligned city of Oakland Ca. I did not leave my heart in San Francisco. I left willingly. The need to create a new image was stronger than maintaining the local San Francisco Celebutante identity that I often desperately clung to. The moldy in law, West of Twin Peaks San Francisco, has been traded in for a very warm, very dry studio apartment with hardwood floors located in the pretty , sunshine filled Lake Merritt district of Oakland.
The day of the move was more of an emotional toll then a physical one. The movers couldn’t have been more charming and efficient. The length of the experience was relatively brief and Orlando was secretly relieved that I had hired men to move my couch and over 35 boxes up three flights of stairs. To me there really wasn’t an option, but he suffers under the delusion that well…he can do it all. He is also “frugal” and paying movers really wouldn’t cross his mind to begin with. I knew I would need everything to go smoothly that day because …I would be a neurotic sloppy mess. I awoke having an anxiety attack of monumental proportions –or I was hungover. It didn’t seem as clear to me as it did to Orlando. He opted for hung over as he catalogued the vodka and wine I had consumed at an impromptu Farewell Teresita party the night before. My skull was throbbing and I kept gagging but was unable to vomit. Orlando looked at me torn between wanting to comfort me and also trying the tough love routine. The move was going to happen whether I was ready or not. He’d been clear. My brains felt as if they were going to implode right then and there. My blood pressure was sky high but at that point I was completely unaware of it.
I stood around looking distressed while the Lando Bear would try to help the movers with whatever he could. I’d try to distract myself by stuffing more of my past in the garbage and listlessly scrubbing the interior of the fridge. The glamorous San Francisco Actor was gradually fading away as each box went up into the moving truck. No more trotting off to a café and getting a latte while a kindly elder Gay, who had survived the AIDS crisis, would toddle up to me and tell me what a wonderful actor I am, and how much he had enjoyed my work through the years. There would be a considerable decline in capricious, last-minute Happy hours at the Midnight Sun with Drewsie. It was official. I was maudlin. I gagged a bit –like a cat with a hairball which made Orlando glance balefully at me. I tried to get my shit together before he became completely disgusted with me. I tried my best...but no matter how I looked at it, saying I lived in Oakland didn’t seem to have the same cache that saying I lived in San Francisco had. Point of fact-Now when I DO tell people I live in Oakland, their brows furrow and they immediately ask about the safety of my neighborhood. When I was shopping in Macy’s in Redding Ca on a recent visit to the Lando bear, the sales associate just looked at me with pity when I told her where I lived.
Arrival to “The Mayfair”, (yes my building has a NAME and it’s called, “The Mayfair”. To make this even better , I’ll tell you the street I live on is just off of “Grand” Ave. Aint that Grand?) was indeed welcoming. The weekend property manager, Mindy, was just unlocking the office door as we arrived before the movers. She resembles a red-haired, adorable Cabbage Patch kid. She smiled her dimpled grin and said, “Welcome Home!” in a lovely whiskey soaked alto. She noticed that I was a bit on the edge and rubbed my arm letting me know that it would all be over soon. It was Mindy who kind of sold me on living at The Mayfair in the first place. She is a ballsy earthy, young woman and her humor is dryly pragmatic.
I found The Mayfair a few weeks prior to this move in, by sheer happenstance. I called and spoke to the weekday property manager, Lila - all because my Face book friend, Robert, had suggested I give her a call to see if anything was available. Now a current SF resident, Robert had once loved living in the building back in the 90s and had very fond memories of the building and the neighborhood. Lila answered the phone in her mellifluous voice and told me – as a matter of fact –yes there was an apartment available! The apartment was not going to be ready to be viewed until Sunday but Orlando and I had showed up on Saturday because of my addled brain. I had gotten confused. Luckily-this turned out to be a happy mistake.
Mindy greeted us warmly that day and let us know the apartment wouldn’t be ready for viewing until Sunday_ BUT she said the current resident was pretty easy going and wouldn’t mind having us take a look. This turned out to be absolutely true. The young man gave off a “Clerks” vibe but was equipped with a far more sophisticated vocabulary and personality. The bathroom needed a deep clean – hey he seemed straight and single so what did I expect? I noticed the apartment was very bright and warm and had a gargantuan closet that almost qualified as a small room.
Residents were wandering in and out of the building and it seemed everyone had a dog. Orlando and I glanced wide eyed at each other because we had both been discussing adopting a Labradoodle once we lived together. A pet friendly building is a rarity in this day and age. We thought the Studio a tad small but the goal was to find a place for me in the first place so there really wasn’t a problem. Yet O and I planned to live together soon. We asked about the availability of One Bedrooms in the building. How often did they free up? Mindy said about every six months-sometimes less. She then generously offered to show us HER apartment. The place was great and roomy. Dining room/Living Room/Bedroom and Kitchen /Bath – It seemed IDEAL!!!! Mindy concluded the tour by showing us the view from the top of the building. Breathtaking O and I did a little mental conferring. We liked the building. The next day we were there to get our name on the list even before Mindy had finished walking her dog. When Mindy finished meeting with us there were at least 5 other couples waiting to take a look at the place.
Now here I was-moving in. I now lived in a building that housed over 80 other people and was over 80 years old….What’s more – I was a resident of a city I swore I’d never reside in! Oakland!