Don Bauder 9:40 p.m., May 21
Valentine's day is always somewhat of a spectacle in Golden Hill. Nearly every corner from B St. to the 94 becomes a makeshift flower/teddy bear store. Mexican families wave at cars passing by in hopes that one stops to buy a bouquet of flowers or perhaps a 3 ½-foot-tall plush bear. The purpose of the stands is undoubtedly entrepreneurial, but the end result seems to be two-fold. Hapless saps in the hopes of love are pressured by a sense of guilt to buy tokens of their sappiness. Or, hapless saps without the hope of love turn bitter by their hopeless. What a wonderful holiday! This year I fell into category B.
Valentine’s day marked the end of my lease in Golden Hill. For the last two years I lived in the area with my girlfriend but recently things between us atrophied and blah blah blah it was time to move on. She had moved out several weeks prior and I had slowly begun the process myself, but today was the official finale. I knew there was going to be an ironic, maybe even cynical tone to the day and I prepared myself for it. I wanted to make the transition as smooth as possible and not turn into the bitter, drunken curmudgeon that always seems to be looming in the bottom of my soul.
8am. I woke with a formidable hangover that the sun preyed upon like a bloodthirsty shark, taking full advantage of the fact I had already packed my curtains. No big deal, I thought. Carpe Diem! I borrowed my friend’s truck and packed the last of my stuff and my bulldog and headed to my temporary residence east, aka my parent’s house. I unloaded my things and headed back for some last minute tidying up.
11am. Driving back I passed the throng of flower stands and what seemed like an unending multitude of lovers holding hands, enjoying the day’s warmth and each other. Good for them, I thought. No need to be a hater. It seemed as if my hangover was passing. My mood brightened; I focused on the task at hand. The house was empty save for a few miscellaneous items of junk and a couple bottles of near-empty cleaning supplies. I discarded the junk, cleaned what needed to be cleaned, and wandered through the hollow house taking in the bareness. The transformation was definitely underway.
1:30pm. After a brief moment of rumination I realized I neglected an important task. I had to pick up the dog crap in the yard. Menial tasks turn into chores in the absence of adequate preparation and this was certainly the case. I sifted through the garbage looking for something to protect my hand from canine fecal matter but found nothing. I walked around the corner to the green dog-post thing that once in a blue moon has poop bags, which was obviously empty. I was finally able to borrow grocery bags from a neighbor and get down to business. This system worked well until I ripped through a bag and covered my hand in turd. Not to worry, the Starbucks on the corner is good for something!
2:30pm. I sauntered around the corner under the hot sun and made my way to the bathroom. I washed up and decided to order a coffee. A caffeine buzz would treat me nicely.
Me: Let me get a venti iced-coffee with soy.
Overzealous Starbucks Guy: Hey what’s up!?! Haven’t seen you in a while!?! Is this for (ex-girlfriend’s name)!?!
Me: Nope. We broke up. Moving out today actually.
Overzealous Starbucks Guy: Aww that sux!! On Valentine’s Day!?! Do you want your coffee sweetened man!?!
Me (with a sh*t-eating grin): No thanks, I’ll take it bitter.
3pm. It was time for the walk-through and my landlady was promptly on time. She was always good about that. It was a little strange, though, that she arrived with her girlfriend. We exchanged pleasantries and took care of our mundane business. The ladies walked about the house and inspected. I could hear them quietly reminisce about happy times they had spent together in each of the rooms, in the sort of saccharine prattle happy people are known to make. By now the irony of the day was at its zenith and I could do nothing but admire it. It’s power was immense. This was real; this was happening. This was pretty funny if you looked at it right. As I closed the door for the last time the Indian-summer sun shone in my face and a gentle breeze caressed my skin. I knew this wasn’t the last time I’d feel these golden rays in Golden Hill. I’ll be back. It’s the only place in San Diego I want to live!