Looking down

Denver comes into view. Los Angeles comes into view. Oakland comes into view.

We sit on the porch in Colorado, people taking turns playing the guitar. We sit on the deck in Oakland telling stories of the past year and discussing chickens. We sit on the beach in Los Angeles and talk about learning to throw and to hit.

You called all the way from America” Joan Armatrading sings, as I drive 580 to meet an old friend. It can feel so far away.

Lifting off from Hong Kong after midnight the lights are muted but the city still bright. We pull up through the clouds and into darkness, amazed to be in flight. It has been some time.

Swimming in a pool with a friend’s seven year old I dive deep into the clear water, hunting colored plastic rings. He beats me to two of three and I am happy, surfacing to the bright Malibu sunshine and a view of the other side of the Pacific. Home is that way,” we joke, hanging on the pool’s edge and pointing west past the horizon. The gesture is a simple definition of distance, something everyone can grasp. Yet we are comfortable here, on freeway and in pools, in a way hard to remember from far across the ocean.

In an Oakland back yard I watch twins chase Tara around, and her them, in small circles. These are old friends, and younger ones, and we are glad of hours in each other’s company, with each other’s memories. There are good times to revisit, on beaches far from here, and sad times too. It’s been a year.

In another backyard some of our beach frisbee team reunites. They have all moved since our last visit, out of San Francisco to these hills and others. We are glad to sit and share tales of fires, of houses, and of children. There may not yet be disc to reunite us on a beach but backyards and hot tubs are more than enough.

In Colorado the house is clean and the puppies now old dogs. One limps slowly in and out of doors, following the humans he adores. He’s done well to survive to this visit, more than two years since the last. We are grateful to all be together, to show new songs learned in the time apart and hear old favorites once again.

And as we descend each time to new cities, to old haunts almost forgot, I marvel again at the ability to be aloft, to look down on the world and recognize even small spots from above.

Long loops

Back to LA,” I answer, when asked where I’m heading. It’s where my loop is from.”

This answer, now given a half dozen times to friends, colleagues, and family, is a phrase not well understood. The loop is obvious in explanation, the HKG to LAX round trip that connects me to this continent and to my home. On one end America and the other my cat. It’s a good loop, at least some times. I imagine it like the old tow-style ski lifts, ropes drifting by on the snow, there for the grabbing, to be towed along to the next stop. The rope itself is always in motion, like the planes between Hong Kong and LA.

The best part of long loops like this, the trans-pacific ones, is their branching, the ability to add or subtract small loops and other destinations before the return. Writing this from an aisle seat thirty thousand feet up and heading south down the California coast line I am almost done, sub-loops soon complete. It’s an emotional space, the air over San Luis Obispo, a week and a half since leaving Hong Kong. For a loop that started with Throwback and a dozen plus of my old San Francisco frisbee friends I’ve done a lot. Spent the work week in the Bay and added in a car loop to visit family. Sub-loops are like that, purpose-built around jobs or distant relatives. This morning’s started with an ebike, a rental car, out to Sacramento and back. One day full of the most driving I’d done since June. As usual with these loops the people were the goal, cruising Interstate 80 in a large Jeep was just bonus. Or cost.

And now, like a boomerang, I am swooping back along the coast line to LA, a brief hitch in the homeward swing. Another sleep or two and I’ll be sitting in my office, watching the buildings across the street. Descending through clouds into Los Angeles that view feels a long way away, in hours and space.

In so many ways these loops are a tale of our lives, the distance both true and not.