Adventures in a New Town

It’s a cloudy, drizzly day in Sacramento today, and if I weren’t thinking about it, the view outside my window takes me back to Queens, New York. There’s a little corner store across from the hotel and the sign reads “Stop-N-Shop: Liquor Wine Beer – We take EBT!” and I laugh at it every time I look out. If it weren’t for the palm trees, I might think this neighborhood were Brooklyn or New Jersey on a day like this, but the people are friendlier. Our hotel, needless to say, is not in the best area of town. Still, it is better than the hotel we stayed in our first three nights here. There, we were sandwiched between what I suspect was a meth lab and a semi-homeless veteran who lived there weekly with his dog.

It’s been two years since I’ve lived in a city, which is kind of strange to me since I spent most of my adult life in them, trying to escape the rural childhood I’d been blessed with. I’ve always liked cities—mostly because I like to watch people going about their daily lives without really having to interact with them. I realize here in the hotel how much I’d missed that since living in New York—how much inward joy I get from looking out the window and seeing strangers just doing whatever—talking, sitting alone, taking cigarette breaks. For the past year, I’ve mostly watched alpacas and birds carry on their business—which is greatly gratifying too, but certainly different.

Sacramento is like nowhere I’ve lived and yet like so many places I’ve lived. I get a creeping vibe that I’m in Baton Rouge again, but then the freeway spreads out to 12 lanes and it feels like a massive game of Frogger and New Vice City rolled into one. The orange trees take me off-guard every time I see one and I repress the inwardly gaping child that wants to run up to some stranger’s yard and start stealing their fruit. Driving into town, we passed acres upon acres of cherry trees blossoming and with the windows down, it smelled like Heaven. Somewhere amongst all of the wonder, though, is the anxiety of finding a place to live. I regret having come here without securing housing first, but like any time I’ve moved to a new town, there’s that catch-22 of wanting to know the place before choosing a place—and how can you do that from far away? Thus, storage space and hotel rooms and anxiety. But still, orange trees…

I’m happy to be at this hotel, though, because I can work. I’m still doing my online lesson plan writing gig, and every moment I’ve been without a computer, internet and desk has just been money I was losing by not working. It surprised me to feel relief and contentment at doing the job that I often complain about for its mundanity—but then I realized that it’s much easier to think about literary themes and plot arcs than it is to deal with looking at rental ads constantly.

And so, on this gray and rainy Sunday, I’m happy to be living in Sacramento. I’ll be happier when I have my own place to call home, but for now, I’m glad to be writing about protagonists and antagonists and scanning the classified ads in the paper and to be in from the rain. Here’s to hoping tomorrow brings some sun and a lead to a new home…

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