Once you make up a place in your head and you visit it, it loses its luster. Either you start knowing too many people there, you see the bad side of it, your friends say something irrational to you about your past relationships and all you want to do is go somewhere safe, and there is no safe.
There is just a large city named San Francisco where you saw your favorite band at a really awesome venue that was close to a really awesome coffee shop and a sketchy smoke shop. I loved that city in the middle of the night, taking the Muni back to a couch that I slept on, covered in fog. The city didn’t love me though, it didn’t offer me safety and understanding, like I thought it would. It wasn’t a shelter I could run to when I was exhausted of being in the middle of a state that people think is made of gold.
There’s no gold here. There never will be. There never was.
Brought to you by Michelle Law, James Butler, Sam George-Allen and Chloë Reeson.
America was two things for me. It was New Orleans and San Francisco. It was stray cats rustling through the grass of abandoned lots. It was a dog leashed to every homeless man. It was oaks that leaned their branches to the ground, beckoning. It was stairs set in the abstract inclines of city streets. Dust between my toes. Cold summer wind on my cheeks. Raw brass. City preachers. Vomiting bile on the footpath before I presented my conference paper. Setting out without purpose and always finding new parks to write in. Waking up in his bed like normal, going back to the hostel and hearing that Bin Laden had been killed. A poster on the BART that heralded the apocalypse the next day.
It was him.
It was her.
I was a year or so out of a serious relationship that had been an engagement at one point. I had left two lovers back home, one of six months and one of far less. Feelings of hesitation about the longer-standing one but attributing it to cold feet. It was a ripe time for me to completely lose my head then find it again.