A black and white image of the UC Berkeley Campanile.
The UC Berkeley Campanile. (Jesse Richmond/Flickr)

When the Berkeley campus first went into lockdown, it was great for me. Because I had the whole campus to myself. But gradually, more and more people realized there was this big expanse of unoccupied green space right in the middle of the city. So more and more people are hanging out here every day. The campus is now like this huge, unsupervised park. And there are more and more people hanging out in the shadows every night, too. People who couldn’t have gotten away with making the scene when school was in session. Like at one of my favorite late-night hang-out spots on the campus—this secluded patio. It used to be that almost nobody hung out there after 10 p.m. and I had the place to myself. But nowadays there are usually weird people doing weird things at all hours.

The other night I approached the place, and it’s pitch dark so it’s hard to see if anybody is hanging out at the tables. And the last thing you want to do late at night is startle somebody when you approach them in the darkness. Especially if they’re nutty or doing drugs. So I cautiously approach the tables. And I didn’t see anybody sitting there. But just as I was about to sit down on a chair, I noticed there was a homeless guy sleeping there. He had arranged the chairs as a bed. And I came very close to sitting right on top of him!!

So last night I was doubly cautious as I approached the patio. But the coast was clear. Nobody around. So I sat down at a table and I’m hanging out, drinking my beer and etc. When I smell some strange smoke coming from off in the distance. But I can’t tell where it’s coming from. Then I hear someone cough from somewhere in darkness. Finally I spot this orange flame from somebody firing up a cigarette lighter. Somebody is sitting UNDER one of the tables getting stoned. I decided to get the fuck out of there.

But that’s what it’s like nowadays. I guess the coronavirus thing has changed everything. Changed all the normal rhythms of our daily lives.

This article originally appeared on Ace’s blog, Acid Heroes.

Ace Backwords is a homeless writer and artist who lives in Berkeley, California. You can find more writing on his blog.