Walter Mencken 4:15 p.m., Dec. 12
I moved to San Diego eleven days ago. More specifically, I moved to this area they call North Park. I learned quickly to identify my neighborhood when asked what part of SD I live in. It reminds me of when I lived in New York. I said I lived on the Upper East Side, which was true. I was ten blocks from Spanish Harlem one way, three blocks from 5th Avenue the other. People could make of it whatever they wanted. The area I live apparently matters to some.
I didn't pick the North Park area. I didn't have a guide to the city that shared with me the best neighborhoods San Diego had to offer. I had a day and a half to find an apartment I could afford. I traveled all over the city and this apartment was the last (and best) I saw.
Already, I have received mixed responses when telling people where I live. Some people say it's good, if you like hipster. Some say it's a poorer area of town. Some just kind of nod their head making me wonder why they asked the question in the first place.
I don't have any stories to share yet. I don't have any thoughts as to what makes my neighborhood superior to others. Better yet, I don't think to ask that question to others because even if they told me where they lived, I wouldn't know where they were talking about.
Before I even moved here, I had a breakfast burrito at Ray's. When I expected the three bite eats that you find at McDonald's drive-thru, I got the monstrosity of eggs, sausage and potatoes stuffed into a tortilla and doused with hot sauce. I got my coffee served on a tray with real creamer and a sugar canister. It was delicious. And one thing I do whenever I move to a new city is visit the public library. My first visit to North Park's location scored me William Burroughs' 'Naked Lunch' on sale for a ten cents.
My North Park experience so far: burritos and books. Works for me.
People are in a hurry to sum me up. Whether it's where I live or where I've come from, they want to seek out any hint that we might have something in common. They have a sense of urgency to figure me out, understand what my motives are, as if I'm supposed to have some.
You want to figure me out? I live in an apartment where the manager alternates between smoking cigarettes and doing breathing treatments. She calls me darlin' and I love it. I sleep on the floor and out of a suitcase because everything else I own has been dragging its feet getting here. I've eaten Lucky Charms for dinner five days in a row and I moved here for the ocean, which I have found that when you say that to people, it's not a good enough answer.
It doesn't matter. The people will nod. They will still smile, but will silently wonder, like I do at times, just how long I'll be sticking around their neighborhood.