I’d take the Richmond line to El Cerrito Plaza and walk. Scowling against patches of sun on the Ohlone Greenway. Hungover on my day off. Sweating then stopping to stuff my hoodie in my backpack. The pedestrian portal through the suburbs. Where cars might actually stop at the crosswalk.
I didn’t think it then but I was poor. EIC poor. Part-time at $9 / hr. State minimum. I couldn’t afford to frame my art so I bought plastic. At TAP Plastics on San Pablo. 1/16 in. thick and to size. Would drill holes in the corners and outfit each with a nut and bolt. A 1/4 in. margin for the framed piece. A utilitarian frame. Not very good for hanging. A trick my art professor taught me.
I haven’t stopped sweating when I walk inside. Air conditioning. I go straight to the clerk at the register. None of those knickknacks today. Just two planes of plastic, 11.5 x 14 in. 1/16 in. thickness. I tell him that’ll be all and wipe my brow with a bandana. He tells me it’ll be a few.
When he rings me up I notice he hesitates before he says the price. And delivers the total blankly, blinking. The price must’ve gone up since last time. Huh. $10 or so above my budget. I wince and give him my card. Still cheaper than a frame I guess.
At home in West Oakland I borrow the power drill from my roommate. I’m setting up at the art table and feel the plastic’s heavier than it should be. I measure the thickness with two different rulers. Just to be sure. 1/8 in. The bastard knew.
I never went back. I couldn’t afford that. I spent my free time in other ways.