Real Estate

Walking through the Mission District of San Francisco the other day, around 14th or 15th Street and South Van Ness and Folsom, a woman swept her front sidewalk. Her brown hair was in a stylish French twist; her pants were a bit ill-fitting so she had to continually pull them up; her focus was intent on the job at hand. She went over the same area more than once to assure that every little leaf, every little gum wrapper, every little piece of detritus was banished. Once the sidewalk was spotless, she swept all the debris in the gutter far away down the street. A small but lushly green tree stood in a square patch of dirt on her corner. She plucked the weeds away from her little garden to free some lovely pink and red geranium flowers. Next to the tree was a short lawn chair, a large red and white cooler, and a gas camping stove with a 1950s chrome tea kettle on it. A fence surrounded the empty lot on their corner. (Location, location, location, this assured that no home owner would come out and ask them to leave.) Along the fence, on a piece of cardboard, a tall person slept, covered head to toe in a fluffy white comforter. On the other side of their real estate, from the tree to an electrical box, she had strung a small rope and draped moth-bitten gold satin, and smokey pink and forest green velvet curtains, to form a tent. I asked if it was okay for me to walk through. She smiled at that and said, “Yes, please make yourself at home,” and waved toward the lawn chair. I said, “Thank you, but I have to get home.” She said, “Mi casa es su casa.”