Here in Fairfax, it’s a hot night that smells like honeysuckle. There are people in this town who look like they haven’t changed a bit since 1972, when I was six years old. These are the long-haired, wide-eyed people of indeterminate sex who come out at dusk to dance in the park, turning in circles and waving their arms over their heads. For years, no matter where I saw this particular behavior, I called it “Fairfax Dancing,” and I laughed about it. It might seem strange that someone who lives in Berkeley would be laughing at people from Fairfax, but there you have it.
Now I spend about half my time here and I love it. I love being able to walk from home to a town that’s still truly small, to buy groceries, to visit the tiny bookstore with the bad live music, or to see a movie at the theater where the letters regularly fall off the marquee and they misspell stuff. (Last year we had “Weeny Todd” and “The Painted Vale.”) And while no one could convincingly argue that Fairfax is rural, it’s certainly not urban — or typically suburban, either. It nestles against vast open space and provides all kinds of opportunities that I just don’t have in Berkeley. For example, three things just this evening:
1. Sowing nasturtium seeds on the hillside in back of the house, I stirred up a nest of hornets. I got stung only once, but I wigged out anyway — it looked something like Fairfax Dancing, but more energetic — and I reflexively hurled the trowel into the bushes.
2. Deciding it might be better to go for a walk, I sat down to visit the neighbor’s geese. Louis, who weighs a good twenty pounds if he weighs an ounce, showed his great, birdlike affection by climbing into my lap and chewing on my hair. I, wearing shorts, discovered that geese have toenails. Who knew?
3. Finally, thinking it would be a good idea to finish stacking the firewood under the deck while it wasn’t too hot to work or too dark to see, I raised several fine lumps on the top of my head. (I am significantly taller than the deck is high.)
Just one hour outside, and I have impressive welts all over my body. I’m quite content with the almost-rural half of my life, but I’m also ready to go watch reruns of something on TV.