Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The people who park their cars around Lake Merritt have always been strange to me. Usually on the east side of the lake, when I walk around or run around, or decide to go sit and read or whatever, I see them. They sit in their cars, usually with the windows rolled down, sometimes napping, sometimes reading, sometimes smoking or chatting, texting, or hanging out with their girl, behind tinted windows or in trucks, or in an Acura Legend with the windows cracked and sometimes there's music, gospel or classical or the quiet boom of dampened bass. I think, why would a person want to sit in a car? When they could get out, sit on the grass or a bench, and everybody can see them just sitting there. Why would a person go out of their way, to drive here to sit in their car?

So yesterday, now that I have a car I like to sit in, on my way back from buying cat food, with a back pack full of papers to grade (A-, D, B-, D+, B+ etc.) I pulled into a spot and cracked the windows, pushed back my seat, and sat by the lake in my car. A breeze came through. The sounds of sea gulls and pairs of a walkers chatting, walking through the frame and disappearing. I could see the wind blowing in on the lake, the rowers rowing and across the water, the boat house and the over priced restaurant, and behind that, the skyline of downtown Oakland. The sun was high enough to shine but the piece of metal and plastic that separates the windshield from the driver side door blocked the glare. Nobody paid me any attention at all.

People watching. Though not really, a couple hours trying to get work done. Did I mention it was quiet? Maybe home is not so much and it's hard to catch a nap at work. But you'll see that all the time in certain neighborhoods. On Dara's street, the one that lines the creek she sees them too. Sitting, mostly napping or texting. California. With a car I feel that I'm entering the main stream of Oakland. Merging like a blood cell into a major artery, swept up and moving toward the center. The center of what I don't know. The man who pulled in next to me gave me a nod. My neighbor offered to help me parallel park. The guy at the gas station helped me figure out why the door kept sticking. California. Cars. People, and what we do.