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Six Dollars and Forty Two Cents

By the time the moving truck rolled away yesterday afternoon, I had collected $6.42 from the change scattered under couches and beds, lurking in dark corners, and falling out of pockets of the last few things I stuffed into boxes. I will stuff this found money in an envelop and save it for Tallahassee–perhaps for a dozen oysters at the Shell Oyster Bar close to our new home, a venerable little dive that just may become our favorite between-the-errands Saturday lunch place.

The move is going fine, as moves go; Wednesday night I spent an hour searching for the keys to the rental car, and this morning I opened my suitcase to learn I had packed two laptop cords, a slip-lock wrench, a very dusty cat toy, and no clean socks, but overall I give myself a strong B+. Both cats made it to Tallahassee just fine via air cargo; a nice man picked up my car, and I hope he was from the auto transport company; and I got to eat pizza yesterday–a huge, gooey, thick-crusted artery-clogging extravaganza studded with big lumps of spicy sausage.

I justified ordering the pizza so I could share it with the movers. Palo Alto is not the sort of place you can run out for a slice–at least not easily or quickly. I was thinking about that when one of the movers, new to the job, said he had already been to many places “except New York,” and to me New York is a sonnet in street food: dirty-water dogs, hot candied nuts, stolid knishes (so warming on a cold day), crisp falafel in a warm pita, and even the coffee I bought every morning when I could still drink two cups of coffee a day.

Even our three years living in Point Richmond were defined to me in part by the food, particularly fish tacos at the Hotel Mac and barbecued oysters at The Baltic (a place that has had a long and sometimes randy history). Pushing back into history, every place I’ve lived comes to life for me through its food, whether it was the wonderful cold cuts I could buy at a local butcher’s in Germany or the hilariously over-ambitious Thanksgiving dinner I made in a barracks room in Osan, Korea.

I’m looking forward to many things in my new life, but I already see us stopping at the oyster bar next Saturday before our trip to Winn-Dixie or Publix, building our memories, finding our place in the world.

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