this is my secret place.

yesterday, sunday, aimee decided at 3 o'clock that she wanted to pick something up from santa cruz. she had a party planned for 3:30 pm at pinto lake, and i never thought we would make it in time. it was her pseudo-birthday party (her real birthday was in april), pseudo-end-of-the-year-party (even though we still have two full months of summer school). so, off we went in her hybrid to pick up these japanese boxes in santa cruz. it was located on chestnut street, right where highway 1 and mission street intersect, and she thought masao had told her the house was 604. so we went up to 604. i knocked on the door, no one answered. "maybe it's 604b." i knocked on 604b. no answer. she called masao and talked to him in japanese. "oh," she said. "it was 624." we drove up the street to 624.

when we got there, an argentian man in his late 20's stood on the sidewalk, waved at us. aimee waved back, and then she hugged him. i reached out to shake his hand. instead, he gave me a hug. it's awkward, not like a real hug between good friends, more like a hug between homophobic yoga people. he's got long hair, and it's tied up cylindrically in the front, his long curls stacked up like a cd spindle. he lead us to the front door of his house, only to find that it was locked, then lead us around back. up in the tree, a hammock. "oh, that's where you sleep?" aimee asked. "yes, my sleeping place." his backyard is filled with random objects - plastic toys, blankets, piles of wood. then, after opening the front door, oswaldo (the argentinian) took a defensive stance. i expected a large dog to come charging through, but it was only his 4 year old nephew, dressed up as spiderman.

oswaldo lead aimee and me through his carpeted home, then asked that we remove our shoes and leave them near the front door. "japanese style," aimee said. then, he lead us to a ladder in the living room and began climbing. "my secret hiding place," he said. i followed aimee and oswaldo up the ladder into the dark and hot attic where masao and diana were sitting on some blankets by the window, guitars in hand. diana has long brown, green and purple hair, and masao looks to be in his 50's, with long greying hair. diana has a green dragonfly patch and a green and purple ying-yang patch on the back of her sweatshirt. tattoos on her leg, too, i think, but i can't make out what they were.

aimee made small talk with masao, and then she said, "we can't stay long. we have some friends waiting for us." which was true. glenn had called around 3:20 and to say that he and his sister, elysie, and his friend, chris, were waiting for the party to begin at pinto lake. masao agreed, and lead us to his truck, parked in front of the house. in the cab of his truck, he picked up the two japanese boxes he built for aimee. at this point, i thought it was over. we'd grab the boxes, and head back to watsonville. but, no. masao took the boxes back up the attic to show diana and oswaldo what they were for. the three decided that they wanted aimee and me to perform the play. it's about a race between animals to compete for the order of the years. the year of the dragon, the year of the boar, the year of the ox, etc. aimee assigned me the role of wizard. the first lines the wizard speaks are: "anim-a-a-als! come to the pala-a-a-ce!" "why does he have a stutter?" i asked aimee. "it's not a stutter," she said. "it reads, 'animaaaaals! come to the palaaaaace!" "oh, i got it," i said.

so, we performed the play in front of them in that hot, dark attic. after the play, aimee asked, "how much do i owe you for them?" "we'll talk business down there," masao motioned toward the ladder. i followed them, curious to know how much one charges for a hand-made japanese box. "name your price," masao said. "i don't know," aimee said. "whatever you think." "i was thinking, 150 each?" i wasn't sure i heard right. did he mean $1.50? aimee wrote out a check for $300.

in the car i asked, "how much did you expect them to be?" "i don't know," she said. "$50? free?" "is that going to set you back for a while?" i asked. "i guess i won't be eating dinner out any time soon," she said.

we got back to watsonville around 5. glenn called back and said that they were going to take off, and that there was another party they had to get to. aimee sulked on the couch.

all in all, i had a good time.

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