scenes from today (a long time ago)

geometric planes of styrofoam dancing in traffic, obliterated into snow, bouncing on asphalt instead of melting into blackness

mutt hut

bunny’s doll palace

entenmann’s bakery outlet

candy corner

San Leandro has stolen my heart several times in the past five years, but it always gives it back. My heart has been taken again, and I’m doing just fine without a beat.

If you only know San Leandro by its main thoroughfares, it’s a simple and bland city. Isolated pockets of surprise are bordered by industry, tract housing, and barely bustling shopping centers. Costco is probably THE San Leandro destination.

Years ago, Robert and I wanted to try mexican food outside of Oakland and ventured one city east. The drive was short and lively; mid-century neon signs dotted a whole boulevard. Motels, burger joints, and car washes never seemed so enticing. Green and yellow palm trees flashed and danced 20 ft above street level. Pink arrows directed us to business that weren’t even open. I was a sucker for the bright and shiny lights. (A couple of years later I discovered another pink neon sign – “boy scouts” – in cursive – on an actual Boy Scouts building – not a gay bar. San Leandro was a keeper.)

That first night made me pay closer attention.

I later had an appointment in a pocket I had never visited – a pocket full of charming 1920’s Spanish mediterraneans and English tudors. It was a whole neighborhood, actually. I was in heaven. Shingled roofs, crescent topped windows, and arched doorways spanned for blocks.

The couple I was visiting had a house so large their doorbell rang a solid five minutes. As I stood on the front porch waiting, I pretended I was outside in the yard, pruning the plum trees and pausing often to pet the dog. The faint ring of the bell would send the dog into hysterics, knocking me clear on my ass into the pile of rotten fruit and branches. I’d slightly limp my way over to the mudroom after giving my tush a few good pats. Off come the work boots and on go the slippers. I’d give my hands a quick rinse in the porcelain tub and would simultaneously walk past the dining table and tidy it up before fluffing the pillows on the way to open the front door.

They still didn’t show up. I rang the doorbell again.

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