I am determined to move out of this city. At the same time, I am determined to enjoy it now that my mind is made up. And there is little I enjoy more than taking walks with the camera, snapping pictures right and left, getting ice cream with JJ, or coffee, or appetizers at the Ferry Building.
Our first apartment was down by the baseball park, and we often walked along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building and downtown, taking pictures of the bridge or the old fireboat house, talking about technology and education, or dreaming about the future. “I’ve always wanted to live in San Francisco” I said, “and here we are”. It was so right for that time in our lives.
Now, we’re in our fourth house here, counting a short-term sublet last summer. Six years have gone by, with one away in Barcelona. We’re in a quiet neighborhood, and our house is the bottom floor of a 3-story Victorian, with views of buildings climbing the hills behind, and the brown peaks of the highest point in the city. It’s very quiet for the city, with easy parking, a small back deck, and a garden down below. The neighborhood is clean, and the shops are delightful. There’s a cafe 3 blocks away where I like to go work on my dissertation, or just write.
It’s the nicest place we’ve lived so far. But this summer, I’ve finally realized that as much as I’ve enjoyed living in San Francisco, it’s not home. I am ready to grow roots, but not here. I need to be somewhere that’s warmer, wilder-feeling with more open space. Somewhere where we can own a house, paint the walls any color we want, garden and know it’s ours. I’m not a city girl, it turns out!
So we are talking about moving. And I am trying to make this feel like home in the meantime.
It makes me wonder: When did you feel like you’d really put down roots somewhere? What made you feel that way? Was it children? Buying a house? Getting a job you loved? Something else?
Out on the marsh, I watch birds. A tall, white crane, standing still at the edge of the water. I take a picture, wishing I had brought a zoom lens, knowing the photo wouldn’t capture the feeling I have here. The feeling of being open, relaxed, taking in the world. Suddenly the crane lifts off, flies above, wings large and almost awkward for the size of its body. It swoops around, flies out of sight, and I keep walking. Smelling fresh air blowing off the water, feeling fresh spring grass against my ankles. The next day, my body still relaxed from a weekend in Pt. Reyes, I can still see the orange poppies when I close my eyes, feel the open space and rolling green hills.
Back in the city I worry about which windows are open, whether I locked the backdoor, and what time I have to leave today. I think all too much about clothes though my wardrobe doesn’t matter in grad school. I walk to yoga class, grateful to have found a teacher nearby. I worry about the progress I’m making on my thesis, whether it’s enough, what it means to me, what I will become when I finish. What if there are no jobs I’m interested in applying for next year? I feel completely open to shifting my career for family, yet children feel further away than ever. I’ve stopped thinking ahead, planning, thinking about what things will look like if I get pregnant this month, or next. Who knows?
I stall this morning, making a quiche for tonight’s class potluck instead of writing first, as I know I should. Chopping broccoli from last week’s farm box, weighing down the crust with rice and putting it in the oven for 10 minutes, mixing together eggs and milk, throwing in thyme, cheese; all the while listening to the radio, a show on Alzheimer’s and new research about its causes and cures. “The scariest thing for people is losing cognitive functioning” a doctor says. “I think, therefore I am Shakespeare wrote, but he might as well have written “I remember, therefore I was, for without our memories, who are we?”
It’s a good question. What will I remember from this time in my life?