california dreaming, part 3: love

the trip last week to the bay area was my first since 1997. back then my world was a much different place. my mother was still alive, as was a favorite cousin who lived in fairfield, located in the east bay. that last trip i also made with the man i still thought i was in love with at the time, and i was hanging onto any little shred of hope that he might not be gay. we had made the trek to the city the previous two summers, having gone through a lot as our relationship morphed from friendship into a romance into some sort of fresh hell. the previous year we had voluntarily gotten bumped from our flight, which allowed us the tickets we used the following year. i had wanted to go to alaska, but he wanted to visit san francisco one more time (perhaps this should have been my clue that he was irrevocably gay :). if this had happened in 2008, i would have just said fuck it and booked the next flight to anchorage by myself. however, this was in the mid to late 90s and i had no sense of self and even less self esteem. so here i was in the city once again, because i didn’t know what else to do. fortunately i loved the city, but still because of personal circumstances, it was a strained nine days.
my trip last week was so very different from that last visit, or the two visits before that. i wonder if i could have made this most recent trip if i hadn’t made the previous trips, which gave me a vague familiarity with san francisco. maybe, but i don’t know. yes, i’ve traveled alone before, but with this particular trip, there was something different in the air, something that was – i hate to say this because it sounds rather cheesy, but it was paradigm shifting for me. i feel like a different person upon returning home, more so than from any other trip i’ve ever taken. i’m not sure if i can pinpoint why this is, other than, first of all, attending the integral theory conference, which in itself could be considered paradigm changing. and then doing the informational interviews, which i had an inkling beforehand that they would likely result in my making monumental changes in my life, and now i’m seeing the ongoing results: i am in fact making plans to make a huge transition in my life over the next few months.
also, and this is not to diss kansas city, but when i compare the two cities, there is no comparison. the trips in the 90s, when i returned home to columbia, well, columbia is a college town that knows it’s a college town. i didn’t compare the two places, because what would be the point? i was happy to return to a slower, sleepier pace. however, kc would like to think it is a big city. it’s a medium-size city that has some big city amenities, but it ain’t big (the sprawl notwithstanding – kc is the 36th largest city population-wise but the 13th largest when it comes to square mileage.). i compare the hustle and bustle of san francisco to kc, and i feel like i’m in a one-horse town now. apparently i’ve turned into a city girl at some point. 🙂 i love kansas city for what it is, and i’ve certainly grown by leaps and bounds having been here. however, i feel like i’ve accomplished what i came here to do, and my trip out west confirms that for me.
san francisco and i have a history, and this trip was also about revisiting that history and then moving on, whether that possibly involved my living in kc indefinitely, or actually relocating to the bay area, or something altogether different (i’m also in the midst of a love affair with new orleans). a couple of years before my mother’s death i was able to bring her along on one of our trips to san francisco, something i am so very happy now that i was able to do back then. i remember her saying that she was thrilled that she was getting to see things she never thought she’d ever see, such as viewing the golden gate bridge from the vantage point of being on the bridge itself. so, on this recent trip, while i never even got a glimpse of the bridge’s orange towers, i did make a point of visiting at least a couple of the spots we had seen together during the 96 trip.
one of those spots was ocean beach, pictured above now in august 2008 and also as it was in august 1996, with my mother trying to keep her pant legs dry. what was really odd for me was when i first stepped onto the beach this time, and looked down to my right toward seal rock and the cliff house. it felt so familiar, like i’d been there all along, and yet it was a bit of a shock, like “am i really seeing this?” it made me really happy though, walking along the beach, my thoughts being drowned out by the waves, but still being able to replay memories of my mother, and my older cousins who lived in the area but are no longer living, and the relationship that first brought me to this place.
upon my return, i told a friend of mine that this particular trip was like visiting a friend that you had lost contact with over the years, but now you were reunited and after a few awkward moments (such as my noticing that there were police everywhere, something i had not noticed in previous trips), it’s like no time at all has passed. that’s exactly how it was for me. i fell in love with the city all over again. and i don’t know what’s going to happen with us this time. i mean, i am planning to work towards a doctoral degree there, meaning i’ll likely be there at least 3-4 years, but what will happen after that? new orleans, perhaps? ultimately the answer to that doesn’t really matter because i’m just going to let the universe play this all out while i watch. however, i’m going to do my part, and not let san francisco slip from my grasp this time. i’m running towards it, and fully believe that it is going to meet me more than halfway, and then some.

One response to “california dreaming, part 3: love

  1. What a journey! Have a good weekend and keep writing!

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