Saturday, December 19, 2015

san francisco + you

on the first date we went on, you walked the streets of san francisco with me for hours.

i told you how much i loved the city.

how i had left for a year only to learn that everything i loved most was home.

you didn't say much that first day.

i usually do all of the talking:

1/3 of it due to my incessant curiosity,
1/3 of it due to a habit of saying too much, which i have carried since childhood,
1/3 of it nerves, because as much as i do talk i mostly wish to listen to someone else talk for once.

i did most of the talking, but you listened well.

you said you liked the city,
and that felt good enough for the then and there.

sometime before ten p.m. we crossed the bay bridge
and you showed me the view of the city from the hills of berkeley.

the only issue was the fog had already blanketed itself around
the buildings, leaving us to look at the flickering lights from beneath
the fog -- a sea of yellow across the bay.

i didn't care.

you were a stranger then,
but you were there nonetheless.
that's what mattered.

i thought you'd kiss me.
but you didn't.

i would be leaving soon and you didn't know if i was something
that you wanted, something that could work.

i leaned in close,
partly because i was chilled to the bone
but mostly because you were handsome.

you didn't kiss me.
and i felt my heart sink like the transamerica building
was sinking more and more beneath that mass of flickering fog.

a connection with a person is a wondrous thing.

and we had that.

you showed me greek row instead of kissing me.

and i wondered, as a result of each of my assumptions, what goodnesses you had within you.

you let me leave san francisco that night with the only answer that distance was too much.

but by the time i was well on the 101 you changed your mind and said
you couldn't just let me go. you set all worries and questions aside and said yes.

i didn't know in that moment that we had two and a half years ahead of us.

two and a half years of me learning about your goodness,
two and a half years of being loved well,
and being heard and supported.

i think this is the aspect of life that might drive me crazy someday, not knowing how two and a half years (or any amount of time) will pan out --

i can't see what lies ahead, and i so eagerly spend my time trying to figure it out.

we spent two and a half years of dreaming,
and we had damn good dreams, too.

if anything, you taught me more about myself --
my flaws, my shortcomings, my excessive stubbornness, all of the wild things
about me that can nearly drive a person to insanity, and you loved me more because of all of it.

last night you told me that you knew i was fickle but you didn't think i was capable
of such unpredictability. and i had nothing to say to that.

nonetheless, for two and a half years you let me shock you with the things i said.

and you fell in love with san francisco.

which probably meant more than anything.

here's the thing,

when you met me, i was broken.
i was fresh off a plane from a month in eastern europe,
and i didn't know who the hell i was. i still don't. but i am one day closer to nearly getting there.

after over a year filled with therapy, moving, traveling, growing, and overcoming,
i was imperfectly stitched up into another version of what i had been before.

and i wasn't sure if i liked me. i had a feeling i might, but i didn't know yet.

and you saw past that.

i am forever grateful for humans like you whose goodness
is flexible enough to compromise when compromise seems premature,
and blind enough to see beauty.

because you would have compromised so much to make room for my wild dreams.
and you would have chosen to be blind if that meant seeing past my imperfections.

and men like that don't come around often.

so when i said that i was in love with san francisco,
you eventually loved her, too.

the city was a platform for a foundation that always pulled me home,
and i know it will continue to pull me home.

in all of its filth,
and imperfection,

it was a home.

and it is a home.

and across the bay is where you reside,
and i couldn't be more proud of your brilliancy,
compassion, determination, and goodness.

all of that goodness taught me how i might be a better person someday.
because, like i've always said, you are the better human being out of the two of us.

when i walked away you said to me,

please find yourself so that you don't do this to any other man. i hope that no man ever has to feel how you have made me feel.

i thought i might lose sleep over a statement like that.

the last time i had a statement made to me like that, it was also pouring rain and the man before me swore i'd end up unhappy and divorced. he told me that the next guy would get what's coming to him.

and i lost sleep over that statement for nearly the whole year i lived in oregon.

but i'm not afraid anymore.

maybe i'm afraid of time.

maybe i'm afraid of the future.

but i refuse to be afraid of myself.

and i know for a fact that you didn't get what was coming to you.
in fact, i believe that there is more, way more than any dream i ever could have nurtured for you.

god doesn't waste brilliancy and creativity on people, and he certainly won't waste it on you. i know those dreams and your goodness will manifest within you, and that is a wonderful thing.

there is always more.

as for me, it might take quite some time to intertwine my dreams with another human being,
but that isn't because i'm afraid that i'll hurt another man.

it's because i've learned that dreaming with another human being is one of the most intimate things.

i also can't bear to have another memory with someone on the streets of san francisco turn into a ghost. because san francisco now has enough ghosts that i will have to learn to see past.

you will exist in union square, in every statement i made about hating the touristy spots in sf -- i much prefer the sunset district, 24th & market, valencia, the neighborhood where the divisadero is, and noe valley.
you will exist in that diner west of chinatown.
and in the sushi place off fidi and market.
in the small church in the soma district.
on every stop of the n-judah line,
at the macarthur and rockridge platforms of oakland where you'd spin be round and round
whether it was a crisp morning or the middle of the night because you didn't care what i looked like dancing around you.
or on the embarcadero on the pier where i took your photo and thanked god for his goodness.
on ashby, telegraph, shattuck,
and in that eerie theater near the brick breakfast building that i love.
in the asian ghetto where we shared countless meals,
out on sproul plaza,
in the crevices of greek row at those parties where you held me together,
and finally in front of the library where the story began.

i don't know who else will love san francisco the way that my heart does.

you loved her greatly,
but i loved her more.

and i don't know anything else but that,
and the ghosts that i will know for some time,
and that people have been telling me lately that i need to do some growing up.

you know exactly what you want, and what it will take to get there.

and i know that i want a life aligned with god's will, and because of this i really know nothing past
what is before me in this moment. and even the things in this moment are bursting with incomprehensible endlessness.

but san francisco resides,
and so do you,
and so do i.

and we will all be okay.

i have to believe this because time is the only thing that tells, and we know how i don't listen well to the voice of time.

my whole heart wants to believe that falling in love is just too pailful to engage in ever again,
but i am reminding myself of san francisco.

how i fell in love with its streets -- even when they were filthy and crowded and dangerous.
how i still love berkeley and will try my best to make her my home in a few years when the time comes to chase a phd. and i hope to god that some man will understand the importance in me doing that so that i don't embark on the adventure alone.

you loved san francisco, too, for a time. and that time was good and valuable.

but there are other places and cities.

and i have my home, and i always will.

but i refuse to be afraid of finding my home away from home. because it will come eventually.

and you shouldn't be afraid of such thing, either.

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