While I was drawing this a woman and a small boy came over and stood next to me.
I paused my podcast* and said hello.
‘He was asking and asking me to bring him out to see you draw,’ the woman said, looking down at the small boy, whose hand she was holding, ‘he was asking and asking.’
‘Hello,’ I said to the boy, and I held up a pastel, ‘Would you like to have a try.’
The boy, who was wearing what looked like pyjamas: dark blue bottoms with a striped top, smiled and shook his head.
‘Do you like drawing?’ I said to him, and he said yes very quietly.
‘I think you’re about…hmmm…4 years old?’ I said and the boy nodded his head and smiled.
‘Do you want to be an artist when you grow up?’
The boy nodded.
‘You will have to practice a lot,’ I said, ‘okay?’
‘Good chap!’ I said to him.
Then the woman asked me why I was drawing the house and I told her I liked drawing houses, and that I planned to draw 100 and then have an exhibition.
‘The houses around here have good character,’ I said, ‘They’re lived in.’
‘It used to be all Mexican,’ she told me, ‘but now it’s changing.’
‘Gentrification.’ I said, and she said yes, and nodded her head and sighed.
Then she told me she had lived here for a long time, but originally she’d come from Northern California, where it’s still a bit cheaper.
‘Not San Francisco,’ she said, ‘it’s crazy what they’re doing there. Who can live there anymore? Who can afford it?’
‘People who work for Google, or Facebook, or Lyft, or Uber,’ I said, ‘of course, not the cleaners.’
The woman laughed and asked me why I live in the US.
I told her I’d come here on a marriage visa, but now I was having some issues renewing it.
Then she told me about her friend who was German.
‘She came here when she was 2,’ she said, ‘and every few years she would just renew her visa and everything was fine. But now, all of a sudden, she’s having problems with it. They’re asking her all sorts of questions.’
‘Everyone has a friend with a story like this,’ I told her, ‘I’m probably someone’s friend with a story like this!’
We both laughed.
‘Everything is so much worse since he….’ she said, not finishing her sentence.
‘Was elected?’ I said.
‘Yes,’ she said, laughing, ‘you know, you never know who you can say it to.’
‘Oh, you can say it to me,’ I said, ‘you can surely say it to me.’
We both laughed, and then she said it was lovely talking to me, and that they should let me get back to my drawing, and I said it was lovely talking to her, too.
And just as they were about to walk away I asked their names.
The woman said ‘Anna’.
And the boy said ‘Diego’.
‘Diego!’ I said, and held out my hand, ‘let’s shake hands.’
And Diego smiled and we shook hands.
And then Anna said good luck with your visa, and I said thank you Anna, I’m sure I will need it.
*Todays podcast: BBC The Documentary- Escaping Croatia’s Asylums