Visions of Carlotta

My hero, Hazel Wassername. "I know your kids' names and what they wore to school today."
My hero, Hazel Wassername. “I know your kids’ names and what they wore to school today.”

The false hope of January ended in nothing getting accomplished. Three weeks of thinking I had representation only to find out I didn’t had me bingeing on 30 Rock episodes and eating brown rice. The eviction clock was ticking and I had no idea what to do.

I finally accepted that I was going to have to negotiate with Vince Young’s attorney myself. And I thought of a last-ditch trip to the Tenants Union even though no agency or attorney seemed willing to help me.

I first visited the Tenants Union earlier in October when we had inklings that the building was to be sold. The woman who was the counselor that day assured me that I was protected by my senior status. I thanked her and told her I felt better about the situation. She said she understood. She lived in a 16 unit building herself and even though she knew she was protected she still worried about eviction. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of legal certitude. 

The day I decided to return I thought I should at least talk to the landlord’s attorney .i felt I should get a better feel for his intentions before I met with the counselor. But I didn’t want to do it. I hated the idea of confrontation and had no skills at negotiating. I procrastinated on making the call as I made my way to the Tenants Union. 

I stopped on Fern Alley off Polk Street and pulled out my phone. There were too many hustlers and meth heads hanging out. I walked on to City Hall thinking that would be the appropriate spot. The Bacon Bacon truck was parked in the plaza, I would be too distracted. I kept going until it dawned on me “The Mission.” It’s the oldest building in the City, it’s where it all began.

The first place I lived was around the corner on 17th Street, a railroad flat I shared with 6 other people. We overlooked the cemetery from the back landing. For historical purposes alone this is where I should place the call.

I’m not a spiritual or religious person so prayer wasn’t the reason I was there. But there is no harm in making a wish or going through the motions of seeking divine intervention. It’s a lifetime practice for Catholics. I entered through the gift shop and let the elderly woman at the register explain the highlights to me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d been there many times.

I walked into the adobe church and looked at the red and gold chevrons painted on the cross beams. I always liked them because they were the same colors as the 49ers. I just hoped that the Niners got the idea from the friars and not vice versa. The other colors that interested me were the fauvist amber stained glass windows in the basilica. Their moodiness seemed to imply doubt and uncertainty, issues you usually didn’t raise with the congregation.

I exited the basilica and walked into the graveyard where Hitchcock had filmed Vertigo. I wasn’t going to find a quieter place than this. I braced myself, dialed and waited. It went to voicemail. Deflated, I left a message to call me back but gave no other details.  The odyssey continued on to the Tenants Union.

Rocky horror mission visit. Who knew they'd be closed at 3 am? At least we were first in line for 6 o'clock mass.
Rocky horror mission visit. Who knew they’d be closed at 3 am? At least we were first in line for 6 o’clock mass.

***

The Eviction Story

Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

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