On the last day of summer, I see a woman reading Murakami on the train, a reminder that I should finish the Murakami novel I’ve been attempting to read for more than six years. We both disembark at the Downtown Berkeley station. The brick rotunda is closed for renovation, and will soon be destroyed to be replaced by a sterile glass canopy, so I take the stairs up to Shattuck, emerging kitty corner to the Half-Price Books.
I make my way through campus. The woman with the Murakami collection disappears up ahead. I have nowhere to be; the chill permeates my clothes. An off-leash poodle frolics in the grass, keeping a cautious eye on his master. The VSLB is just as I remember it – a monolith on the edge of the hill. I skirt the edge of MLK plaza, up the side path to Sather Gate, through the gateway to the plaza between Dwinelle and Wheeler. Here, I once watched what seemed to be thousands of people stream down the hill. It’s empty.