robertisenberg

Oakland Fireworks : 2

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Photograph of Hare Krishna, in front of Cathedral of Learning, Oakland.

I’d spent two years in college, and I was determined not to waste another summer in rural Vermont, waiting tables and living with my parents. So I stayed in Pittsburgh, even though my few friends had vacated and my girlfriend was spending the summer in Mexico. I’d conned my way into a bookstore job, earning $6 an hour stacking weighty textbooks, and despite the long hours in a musty basement, I was making just enough to survive. And this was what survival looked like: A dusty apartment sublet from an acquaintance named Erica.

It wasn’t glamorous – my third-story efficiency had no air-conditioning, and the rotating fan wasn’t enough to keep me from sweating through the borrowed sheets. I didn’t own a car, so I had to schlep to the nearby CVS to buy my groceries – a few cans of beef stew, minute-rice, powdered drinks to sweeten the foul tap-water. One time I left a loaf of bread on the shelf, and the slices molded overnight, inviting an army of ants. Long days at work were followed by endless nights alone. The phone had no long-distance, so I used calling cards from the Indian grocer to contact my parents and let them know I was all right.

But it was more than all right. I loved it.

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