The first time back to San Francisco, I expected it to be hard. Like seeing an ex you’ve never gotten over, right? It would fill me with nostalgia and regret and woe and depression, and I would spend the entire visit giddy because I was falling all over again, and then they’d have to un-pry my fingers one by one from the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge and drag me forcibly to the airport and hold me down until the plane took off with me plastered up against the window, sobbing open-mouthed against the glass and making terrible wrenching, wailing noises until they knocked me out with a syringe.

I mean, I love San Francisco. Anyone who was reading the journal I kept when I first moved to San Francisco can tell you about the rhapsodizing. The air! The light, the hills, the streets, the smells, the sights, the sounds, San Francisco! City of my heart, love of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, et cetera. Me and San Francisco were likethis. I really never thought I’d move away. But I moved away! But nothing would ever take San Francisco’s place in my heart! And going back for just a visit would be heartbreaking, because it wouldn’t be to stay.

Going back wasn’t heartwrenching at all. I kept waiting for that
soaring moment of transcendence–I’m here! I’m here! Maybe it was
because we came into town at nightmare o’clock, and I was so exhausted
and didn’t have any patience at all. But when we walked down from our
hotel through the “theater district” (read: Tenderloin) to get dinner at holycrap o’clock at Jack in the Box, we
were weaving between the homeless drunks and the shrieking girls and
the palpable stink of urine and the giant assholes who wanted to start
something and I did not have patience. None.

I used to love living in this neighborhood because it was like
this–crazy and what I liked to call “alive!” and I never felt unsafe or
uncomfortable, but standing there, all I wanted was to be out of this
awful place and I couldn’t believe I felt like that. In the movie of my
life, this is the scene where my heart is supposed to be full and I am
supposed to be grinning all ear-to-ear and filled with a sense of
exhilaration and homecoming. I just wished the giant drunken man in the
Birkenstocks would try to not pee on my leg.

Okay, the next day! We rushed to the financial district, not a Place of
My Heart, and then rushed to the wedding, which is near the Presidio,
which is very nice and beautiful. We drove from the church up to the
reception, and it was lovely and the views breathtaking and I pointed
them out to E dutifully, and I waited for the rhapsody and I mostly
just wanted a drink and a lot of food and my shoes were very tall, so

The next day–wonderful to see my friends! Back in the Tenderloin for
breakfast, and it’s not pretty. Union Square is ridiculously crowded.
We check out, stow our bags, walk over to the Embarcadero, and it’s
pretty! It’s very nice. And it’s still not touching my heart. Why isn’t
my heart being touched? Is my heart dead? My heart is a dead lump and I
am a broken, soulless monster.  This is San Francisco, and I am not
feeling tenderness or nostalgia or longing. I still love San Francisco.
There are things I miss crazily. Maybe I’ll be back someday. But right
now, I am okay with not living there any more.

2 Replies to “homesick”

  1. I have the same relationship with my hometown of New Orleans. Now that I’m in Portland OR I have fond memories of drunken French Quarter craziness, but when I return to N.O. I have no patience whatsoever for drunken French Quarter craziness! (Well, limited patience as I do still head there first thing every time.) But it wears thin quickly. Yet still, if I have a chance to go “home” for a visit, I am there!

  2. oh, it’s not when you’re there that you miss it – wait a few months until the stink of the TL washes out of your nose and you think, ah, I wish that I could see the fog roll in tonight. Or, hey, I wish I could take a nap in the fall afternoon sun. And how you miss the people, and the market, and the sound of the cable car. It’s you left your heart in San Francisco, not your brain. ;)

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