On the back end of a good set of days I look at the Pacific from the wrong side and breathe. The air is clean here, a bit north of Los Angeles proper, still connected to its urban sphere. The airport we’ll head home from on this loop is just visible in the distance, a string of planes approaching. The weather, wet for southern California, feels welcoming. After a week on the east coast I am comfortable again in this country, operating by car and with poor cell signal.
Visiting America is an emotional journey. We have to prepare, to set aside the way things could work for the way things do work. We set aside walking to restaurants and to work, set aside trains from the airports and clean public bathrooms. In exchange we are hosted by friends we miss dearly in houses with kitchens nicer than any we’ve ever inhabited. Their children are larger, are two, four, five, eight almost nine. We watch these small people grow in leaps between visits, thrilled each time at their new abilities. So too will they be soon by YT, I realize.
Visiting America is a mishmash of meeting friends for dinner, meeting colleagues in co-working spaces, meeting potential customers in unfamiliar offices, meeting family in houses from our childhood. It’s a mishmash of memories and new experiences. On an e-bike one morning I swing by Four Barrel, my favorite SF coffee shop. For years it was two blocks from home. In line I find some fellow ultimate players and say hello, that it’s been too long. San Francisco is a city dense with our history, and I’m happy to revisit it, even momentarily. Yet half the time there is utterly new, meeting colleagues in buildings I’ve never seen before to work on companies that didn’t exist when I lived here. The variation is confusing, often within half an hour, from debating a hiring plan in a hotel conference room to biking to my host’s house on streets I’ve ridden dozens of times.
In many ways America is peaceful now, for us. We come on vacation, or half-work half-play, lingering a bit to see old friends. We re-kindle our commonalities with twenty odd hours of chat, of intense sharing. We go to the batting cages, to gyms, to bars and restaurants, for long walks, and to ultimate tournaments. We laugh, and we check in on our memories. It’s a good break from the stress of our lives, even if it brings stress of a different kind.