So August happened.

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  • Fringe shows attended: 8
  • Houseguests hosted: 4
  • Books read: 3
  • 18th-century documents fondled: whoa
  • International book festivals performed in: 1
  • Boxes packed: 920345754354
  • Miles moved away: 0.4
  • IKEA flatpacks assembled: 0. That is why I have a FunkyPlaid.
  • Stories written: :(

I am very glad that August happened and also that it is over because I would really like to get back to database-wrangling and story-writing and anything other than figuring out where to put all my Stuff.

This entry was longer but I lost the first draft to the vagaries of tethering my laptop to my phone. You have been saved a Carlinesque diatribe on aforementioned Stuff. We’re all better for it.

I left something in San Francisco.

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Maybe it was my heart. No, my heart was there, for a time, spread out in beating chunks across the hills and Muni lines and friends and restaurants and libraries and moments I thought I would never survive and the moon so full reflected on Ocean Beach.

San Francisco, you taught me what it meant to expect beauty down every little alleyway, to believe in magic because living without it is dying a little every day. You taught me never to assume that I was alone because I felt lonely. You taught me patience with frustration, and when patience ran out you taught me how to curse it colorfully so I felt that at least I was doing something.

San Francisco, you gave me serendipitous meetings by the truckload if only I would look up from my books. You gave me ridiculous inconsistencies that I had to learn to wrestle, and in learning, let a little of my compulsivity go. You gave me a career direction and a writer’s voice.

I left something with you. I left my friends and I left knowing where to go for the best meals in the world and I left a part of myself, too, I know I did, that part that believes in a transit system and tolerance and a world with poets instead of politicians at the wheel.

But not my heart.

You gave me my heart.

The state of the chateau.

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I have a few moments post-packing, post-homework, to write something substantial on What Is Going On.

I’m doing all right. I think the cats are in various levels of “all right” — Torgi is obviously very confused, but Zen is fine as long as she has me around and some kernels in her bowl. Tomorrow the housecleaners are here, and also a wonderful TaskRabbit named Gabriela is helping me take all of the donations to Goodwill. I will make a run to the storage space with some of the little stuff in a Zipcar before I go to my in-laws’ for dinner, my last at their house for a while. This is difficult to process.

FunkyPlaid has been amazing as always, and as supportive as he can be from so far away, but there is nothing quite like being alone in the evenings for this phase of it. Trying to keep up with schoolwork has been tough, but I just received an A on a paper I was struggling with last week, so I must be doing all right.

Le Chateau de Jambon looks astoundingly different without our stuff in it. Torgi is huddled with me on one of the remaining sofas as I write. We are in the room that has so often been filled with smiling faces. I am thinking of the house shows and the parties, and then of the near-silent nights with just soft breathing and cat snores and the foghorns so close.

I am thinking of crying myself to sleep last Saturday night after singing karaoke and then feasting on South Indian food with my friends.

I am thinking of my mom’s voice in my study as we spoke quietly about the future, my future and her future and San Francisco and that I would leave it someday.

I am thinking of my dad’s voice just a few short weeks ago as he sat right where I am now and spoke of this departure in terms of days instead of somedays.

I am thinking of how the house sounded so warm and cozy with all of our stuff in it, and now it is a giant, cold cavern that echoes with every footfall, even the littlest paws.

Melodrama comes easily to me, as does melancholy, so I know I need to be focusing on the wonderful thing just ahead. Still, this house became a symbol to me. The first time I ever saw it, FunkyPlaid had just returned from Scotland in 2004, and he was so excited to be here. I was hesitant and a poor guest because circumstances were different between us, and I had no idea how to comport myself. I was awkward and I stared at the homely tile in the kitchen briefly before running off, then hated myself for it.

I saw this house again when we reunited, and I fell in love with its warmth and luxury as surely as I fell in love with FunkyPlaid. When his home became our home, I could not believe that I deserved such a beautiful place.

I grew to believe it. It took a while. And then, after he left for our new home, I dismantled this one, piece by lovely piece.

The symbol is taunting me. I am seeing it right now not as a to-do list to check off but as a culmination of love, of safety and laughter and home-cooked meals, of a place I always belonged no matter how wretched I felt about the world just outside its door.

It is so much harder to leave than I thought it would be.

Unsettling.

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The house sloughs off years, slowly exfoliating stuff and dust from every corner. In the middle of the night, I wake up from dreams just turning into nightmares. A cat is crying at the garage door, or shifting around and around in a slow circle, unable to get comfortable.

My right shoulder aches. I must be sleeping on it funny, but I never wake up on my side.

I went to see a movie by myself. The last time I remember doing that was almost eight years ago. That movie was much better than this one, but the Junior Mints were just as sweet.

When I wake up like this, I hear raccoon scuffles, shrill growls demanding obeisance. Our yard, soon to be just the yard, is contested territory.

The entire house is contested territory. Emptiness reclaims whole rooms, swelling and settling. I recycle the box of mints, borrow a glass of water, extinguish lights as I go. Finally there is no restless movement, no sound but the foghorns. Just when I crave a signal, a shriek, a sigh, a symbol — I hear nothing but a dull note as I eavesdrop on the tide.

A weekend off.

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After seeing FunkyPlaid off on Friday morning, I vowed to have a weekend free of packing and moving. I would like to say that it has been blissful, but mostly it has been sort of pathetic because I have had a headache for the past two days that ibuprofen won’t touch.

Still, it was good to catch my breath, and thanks to FaceTime I have chatted with FunkyPlaid twice already, which makes the distance a little shorter.

The cats are unhappy. Zen follows me around constantly; if I am in another room for more than thirty seconds, she joins me. Torgi, on the other hand, has withdrawn to his only hiding place left, the linen closet, where he sleeps the days away. At night he wanders throughout the house, meowing for his lost parent. He hasn’t gotten the hang of sharing the bed with Zen if I am the only human buffer. Occasionally she will sniff him or lick him the wrong way and he twitches and she thwaps him and then we are all awake.

In just a few days, the fall semester begins. While I am looking forward to my classes, I get sleepy just thinking about homework.

One good thing about living alone: I am fully caught up on sleep, whether or not I want to be. It is very easy to go to bed early when there is nothing else happening in the house.

Zen just sat in front of the door to the empty garage and wailed. I know.