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.

The storm before the calm before the storm.

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FunkyPlaid’s penultimate day in San Francisco is here! And my title is wishful thinking, a little, because while yesterday was certainly a storm of activity, I do not think either of us will get any calm today.

But here! Here is my calm. Also I daydream about knitting, and read about people killing each other with fancy swords.

moving face, a webcam snap

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I have not forgotten How I Decide Where to Sit, but the only thing I have been observing during my recent shuttle rides is the inside of my eyelids.

Yesterday was my half-birthday, which FunkyPlaid always remembers, even when he is packing up his entire life to move to another continent. I shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore, but I am. He presented me with the cleverest camera bag I have ever seen. It is a single-strap backpack contraption that swings around so I can open it quickly and grab my camera, even change a lens, without taking it off. It also has a billion other useful features that will come in handy while hiking around Scotland and holy crap we are moving to Scotland.

That happens about ten times a day now. I have packed up and moved so much in my life that the process is no novelty, but then I remember where we are moving to and I get all numb-tingly like I sat funny on my guts and they fell asleep and are just waking up, jangly nerve by nerve.

When I got home from work yesterday, FunkyPlaid and two of our friends were packing up the Uhaul to take our stuff to storage. At our storage place, two more friends joined us, and the whole experience went smoothly and quickly, once again proving that we could not be doing this without the help of so many terrific people.

There will be a few loose ends for me to knit tie up after FunkyPlaid leaves, but the toughest stuff will be done. I expected nothing less from him; even in the company of our extremely hard-working family members and friends, he is still the hardest worker I know. “Indefatigable” is the only way to describe his work ethic, even if I almost always mispronounce it.

After Friday morning, our home here will just be an almost-empty house inhabited by two confused cats and a bewildered swan, wombling from room to strange room.

Goodbye, books.

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All of my books are packed. Such a relief! Everything left at this point is either going to purchases, swaps, or donations.

I turned the nestcam on for a little while today, just to break up the monotony. It amuses me to open a little window into my chaotic world.

Our friend Eric picked up his mountain bike today, and also left with a few games and a tea set I was going to bring to Goodwill. Knowing that he has some of my well-loved possessions makes me happy.

I was bummed to give away my VHS tapes of “The Maxx” and “Hey Vern! It’s My Family Album”, until I found out that they had been released on DVD. Onto the wish list they went! Although honestly I cannot imagine acquiring anything else at this point. The urge to toss everything I own is very strong just now.

Among other bizarre things, I found a wooden box containing coins totaling CAD$3.24, €4.07, £7.52, and 500mk, the no-longer-legal currency of Finland.

The last four days of FunkyPlaid’s preparations for leaving will be intense, so intense that I am avoiding thinking about it. There will still be a bunch of things for me to do after he leaves, plus my semester starts in a couple of weeks, but nothing will compare to this frenetic pace. Leaving the country! It’s a big deal! Who knew?

Everyone did. I was just pretending it wasn’t, nose in my books. Now the books are gone and I have to look at everything just as it is, big and raw and more than a little uncertain.