The seasons change, inevitably. In San Francisco the fog pours over the peaks in the afternoons, blanketing the city with a chill breeze that can only mean summer. Returning to the city from the heat of the East Bay the fog feels like a memory, and I know our time with it is ending.
I have learned that endings come from all directions. Usually they aren’t as simple as they were in two thousand four, packing up and walking out of my first Shanghai apartment with no plans and a single backpack. Often the point of departure is rather a runway built on dozens of small signals. A job ends, a boss quits, a lease expires, a visa is too difficult to renew. These moments when added together become impetus enough to overcome the comforts of a small apartment, of good light and great friends, of living downtown by the train.
“cause’ it could come out of nothing,
And hit you harder still,”
As the fall of twenty sixteen approaches, promising a few weeks of sun without fog, sun without wind, we breathe deep and prepare ourselves. The gift of seeing change coming is being able to remember the moments just before it with clarity. Riding my bicycle to work each day along Embarcadero in Oakland I watch the sky and the water. One day this will not be my commute, just like that long drive to Petaluma over the Golden Gate is no longer my commute. Like the Saikyo Line, Yong Jia Lu, and Houston’s streets, the commutes change and the past moves further behind us.
“Can you pick a point that we can choose to rewind to / Or know there’s better days ahead than behind you”
In many ways San Francisco is home. It’s not time for goodbye, not yet. For another few months the fog will roll in, we will grow older, and the call of distant shores will grow louder. Yet in twenty sixteen the feeling has grown strong, and we have started planning for the end. Constant travel and a wonderful set of friends have kept us in place these past seven years, but weights can be only so heavy, and our curiosity is strong.
The cat, now four, has never lived outside this city of seven by seven miles, though he’s traveled far. He doesn’t know it, but he will love wherever comes next.
“Don’t you know what it’s like
To disappear from someone else’s life”
Leaving is a sudden thing built in stages. Foundations take years, financing, and the will to ignore the accumulation of the first two. So in the fog of the summer of twenty sixteen I gather the last of these to me.
In two thousand seven a boy sat on his balcony in Shanghai, waiting for the storm to break. He was ready to go but not yet pushed to leave. In a half dozen months everything in his life would change.
“Can we work it out?”
For now we watch friends leave, jobs end, and people grow. We think of the future and celebrate the present. Like that boy in Shanghai, we are not yet in motion, we are waiting for the weather to break. Like that boy in Shanghai we are not packed, but we know what we’ll keep.
Post cards, books, memories, friendships.
And a furry cat.
Quoted lyrics from Gordi’s Can We Work it Out, Nothing’s as It Seems, and So Here We Are off of the 2016 EP Clever Disguise