I get to El Paseo around 5:30pm and there’s nobody there. Just some kids running around. No dancers, no musicians. I wonder whether I got the time wrong. I’m congenitally early all the time. I start brooding. It’s been a weird day.

A couple days before, I got a terse text from a restaurant owner to take down my painting from their establishment. I’ve had art up there continuously since they opened nearly twenty years ago. But the text just said they needed the wallspace. They might as well have thrown the painting out the door, onto the sidewalk, then yelled at me to come get it before it was trampled by passersby.

I try to book a Zipcar, as the painting is 4’x 5’, but for some reason, my account is locked as a “security precaution”. So I bungee-cord the surfboard rack I’d bought as an experimental art-transport to my bike and pedal north.

I manage to get the thing home without the canvas acting as a sail and sending me off course, then sit at home and stew on why things ended this way. Did I anger them in somehow? Or is it just poor communication skills? All they had to do was ask nicely. Instead, odds are that I won’t be taking up space within their restaurant anytime soon.

Just as I’m wondering whether my gig to draw Wendy’s flamenco class is off, I see Steve walking up with his violin and amp. Then Wendy and Avi. Soon we’ve got boards set up on the grass so the students can stomp away and I’ve got my lady’s purse of markers out.

The hour passes quickly and does a lot to dull the bad feelings from earlier. I hand Wendy the drawings and she writes me a check in return. I like drawing her dance classes and have done a lot of it over the last decade or so. We say our goodbyes and I pedal away to get dinner at the bar.

Then I head back north, to Ravenswood, to catch a movie being shown on the rooftop of a pizza joint. A local filmmaker has opened a VHS rental store in the back room. No website, no credit cards; pay $80 cash and rent as many tapes as you like for a year. I have no interest in revisiting video-store days; I’m old enough to recall how they helped kill the movie-going experience. But weekend screenings on the rooftop sound swell.

I get there a few minutes late, but thankfully the show hasn’t begun. I grab a drink from the bar and go upstairs and find a seat. Leor’s there. It’s good to see him. Haven’t since before lockdown.

A Three Stooges short is followed by a 1990 film from Zimbabwe called Jit. I hadn’t heard of until this morning, when I read a description in a newsletter recommending the screening. It’s a joyful, scrappy movie about a kid going overboard to win the woman of his dreams. A perfect capper to a long, weird day.

I stop for a nightcap at Rainbo on my way home. Eber’s working door; Skyler, Nate, and Mike are serving drinks. All friends. Skyler comes out for a cigarette as I’m leaving and mentions the business with the restaurant and my painting from the morning. It’s a small world. We all know each other. He’d talked to another of the place’s owners, who’d wondered whether I was upset.

I had been. But the rest of the day helped bury the hurt into the past.