Friday, September 1

Dear Jim,

It´s 8:00 pm in the hot, smoky, dusty River City. It was 107°. In San Francisco it was 106°. I told dad I would rather be in Sacto than in S. F. when it´s that hot. Dad agreed. San Francisco is humid.

One good thing about the smoke is that it blocks the sun so I don´t have to worry much about sunburn.

I had a chiropractic appointment at 11:30. I didn´t want to stay home all morning so I went to the neighborhood park and read for an hour, then walked to her office.

I love going there. Every two months I go. I started going because I thought that since
I´m getting older, It would be a good idea to keep myself loose and to catch any problems at an early stage.

She´s good for me – a real old school character. She´s a few years older than I am so I hope she stays strong. She gets physical.

How are you? It´s September. You loved September and October. You used to go to the beach during Indian Summer and run, following the patterns of the water as it came to shore. I was afraid to take my shoes off at the beach because of the broken glass.

When I was in the 6th – 8th grade and you were in college, the city started to get dirty with broken bottles, pull tops, fast food packages, and dog shit.

The dog shit was incredible. Remember the time I stepped in some and you made me take my shoe off and put it in the trunk?

Our sisters were with us. It was a night in Indian Summer. We were at an ice cream parlor.

In the 80´s I was with some people on Irving Street. You remember all the shit – when a woman slipped and fell real hard. She was pissed off. I would be too.

Cities are cleaner today. Bottles are recycled. There hasn´t been pull tops for Lord knows how long. People put their hamburger wrappings in the garbage now. There isn´t a lot of dog shit on the street or in parks because people scoop their dog´s shit into a plastic bag, then put it in a garbage can.

What´s funny, and I have been saying this for twenty years, women don´t walk barefoot anymore. When we were young, women walked barefoot all the time, even with all the glass and dog shit.

Now there isn´t a lot of glass or poop, but only a few people walk barefoot. Being barefoot was a woman´s thing – their connection to the earth, their trust in the universe, their willingness to cut loose.

Maybe being barefoot makes them feel vulnerable in this age of terror. They are afraid of being raped or having their purse snatched. Being barefoot and carefree will make them more of a target.

I also think women don´t want to walk barefoot because the world is fast and furious. Women want the power that comes with wearing shoes, or at least to be taken seriously when they aren´t barefoot.

And last, the world has become so male in all the bad uses of the term, that women have become like the old time men, hard driving and afraid to be vulnerable.

If my feet weren´t deformed, I would walk barefoot all the time. I don´t want anyone to laugh at them or ask me about them.

When I went to a custom shoe guy for inserts 17 years ago, he told me that I have everything you do not want in a foot – real wide spread of toes, real narrow heal, high arch, high instep, and the index toe much longer than the big toe. Remember you used to laugh at my index toe protruding through the tip of my sock?

My chiropractor and I talk a lot. I made her laugh one day when I said, ¨I love my feet.¨

They have been through club feet and a major operation. If they had been normal, I would have been a little better in sports. I did so much with them – all my wanderings through Golden Gate Park and along the beach; my nine years as a gardener; all the boogieing; all the wandering in Sacramento; the time I walked along the railroad tracks from Chico to Marysville – that was a great trip.

In the last week I needed to be barefoot. Twice when I went to the park I took off my shoes and socks to walk on the dry lawn. My feet got dusty and I loved the touch of the dryness.

I would love to be barefoot all the time. It´s good for your soul.

Wednesday was the end of my 37th year in Sacto. I wish I could say Sacramento is a great city. But it isn´t. It has nice weather. The City has great views. But weather and vistas have nothing to do with whether a city has soul or whether the citizens trust each other.

I wish I could say I am happy and feel free here, but I can´t. I remember moving to the old part of town when I got here. I loved it because of the trees and the old houses, but I felt the people were phony. They thought they were cool like the people at 9th and Irving thought they were cool and the people on Carl Street thought they were cool and the people at City Lights thought they were cool.

Now the phony bohemians are priced out of Midtown and we have the Yuppies from the Bay Area. I still love the trees and old houses.

Well Jim, I´m trying to free myself and love the times I live in and love my fellow Americans who I do not like. I want you and mom to pray for me.

I´ve been reading Octavio Paz – The Labyrinth of Solitude – in Spanish. He wrote it in 1950. Did you read it?

It´s great. He talks about the inferiority complex Mexicans have. He said the macho attitude of Mexicans is the way Mexicans, male and female, deal with the pain they feel from being torn from their connection to nature, their Aztec past.

He says Mexicans have tremendous passion that is pent up from not being able to be the type of person and the type of nation they want to be. They have all these holidays where they get drunk, scream ¡Viva Mexico!, and knife each other. But those things don´t heal the ¨rupture¨ from nature or get them on the track to ¨transcending their isolation.¨

I´m trying to heal my rupture and transcend my isolation. I´ve already drank and yelled. I never had the ability to fight.

If Mexicans never heal themselves, they can still scream ¡Viva Mexico! and ¡Viva Maria!.

I better heal myself, because there´s nothing for me, as an American or a Catholic, to shout about.

Love,

Dave