Monday, January 4, 1993
In the back yard of a house in Mountain View I've converted a garage (without permit, as it wouldn't be sanctioned) into a living quarters and darkroom for Howard's teenage son, who wants to be a photographer. Howard good-naturedly calls it "the Mad House." I've done several garage-to-teen-den conversions, and it's always a stepparent/stepchild issue.
Today I'm to install a furnace. The son has been living there for months already, but space heaters just aren't doing the job. As I arrive, a teenage girl is stepping out the door. She's startled, seeing me. She has blue jeans, a pony tail, and yet, and yet…
"I'm here to install a furnace," I say.
"Warmth," she says. "A good idea." She's one of those subset of teen girls who can look so wise, so serious, so much older while still so young. How do they do it? Teen boys can never escape looking like teen boys.
"I'll try not to be in your way," I say.
"No problem. I'm leaving forever."
Inside, the air is thick with the damp smell of bodies and mildew and the residue of darkroom chemicals. Nobody is home. The concrete floor is buried by clothes, books, a pile of camping gear. The window is steamy. A furnace will definitely help.
In one corner there's a mattress, a sleeping bag, and on top a note written with a feminine hand, circles over the i's: "Thank you for a wonderful weekend of skiing that I will remember for a long time."
You pop in and out of people's lives; you get a snapshot, sometimes a blurry one. A little drama. Whatever it means.