pacific b2b


In SF I am always colder than I expect to be. It must be psychological, I insist to Juhi, who is incredulous at my shivering and complaining each time I visit. On Friday morning I left the house to go to Cinderella Bakery, enticed by the idea of meat pie and the Google photos of soup. The jacket I wear in thirty degree weather barely insulates me from the Pacific breeze that greets me as I step outside Juhi's front door, and it isn't until I walk down the street and lose some elevation that the sun finds me as well. The blocks stretch on forever, making my ten minute walk feel like twenty. As I cross Arguello it hits me that the white noise here is completely different than the other cities I've been to--there's no chatter and definitely no honking or sirens, just the rush of air and tires on pavement as cars pass by in intermittent chains with no obvious destination at this hour. Even the traffic lights are different, imperious somehow, much larger and affixed firmly to their pillars. I'm such a different person than I was the last time I was here (I can't believe it was almost a year ago :O), and I'm really leaning into the visit this time, making a concerted effort to not hole up in the basement or at the dining table during work. I have few associations with this half of the city, so spiritually distant from North Beach or the Mission, and when I walk around I like to pretend I'm a visitor in a seaside town, I feel like I can imagine what it was like here in the early 1900s, a sleepy city by the ocean privy to melancholy and foghorns and the idea of a simpler American life. This past weekend I had the loveliest day... On Friday night we got home at 3 after seeing Jessy Lanza spin at The Great Northern (which I thought might bear some resemblance to the hotel in Twin Peaks, it did not) and stayed up an extra hour listening to the Jayda G's DJ-Kicks mix that soundtracked my midsummer airport time, strung out on the Adderall we had split earlier in the night. The next morning we independently woke up at 10:30 and procrastinated rising until noon, when hunger drove us out of the house to pick up dim sum at Wing Lee. On the drive over we struggled to find the right amount of stimulation--Juhi fiddled with the radio, the windows, we felt too worn for anything more direct than some fresh air through the sunroof and the softest of electronic music. As we circle the Richmond to find parking, the afternoon sun smears the windshield and I realize Yo La Tengo's "Our Way to Fall" is playing. I tensed at the unexpected familiarity, of the memory of late fall and early December, I was surprised that a time so recent could already feel like it belonged to a different era, and I recalled how Juhi and I had texted in October about how we had both been listening to a lot of YLT. I felt the urge to cry, both out of sadness at being alone again and at the beauty and sentimentality suffusing both that moment and my time here. When we got home I trudged through our goodies while Juhi coordinated her evening plans, steadily relishing my BBQ pork bun. We ate in quiet mutual contemplation of our childhoods in the Bay Area, and I watched the USF girls' soccer team running drills outside the dining room window. Afterwards we napped on either side of the couch, each with a different blanket, YLT playing softly from Juhi's phone on the warm Klipsch speakers. When I drifted awake after a couple rounds of dozing it was heartbreakingly perfect again, the music and the light and the slow tenderness of the late afternoon, a perfect synchronicity between my mood and my senses. We strategized on how to spend the rest of the day outdoors near the ocean. As we readied to leave, Juhi joked, "It feels like we're preparing ourselves for a pilgrimage." We set out in search of a coffee en route to the Lincoln Park Steps--"Keep your eyes peeled," she instructed as we turned onto Geary. I always think about Jerry saying that the trees in the Bay Area are superior to those in the PNW because here they grow in weird and interesting ways. On our walk, I kept pausing to take photos of the massive cypress and eucalyptus trees, their branches warping in mottled knots towards the sky. Juhi pointed out the Internet Archive, housed in a comically conspicuous Parthenon-core building. When we finally caught sight of the ocean I was so happy to be reunited and was awed as always by the sheer force of the waves pounding the cliffs beneath us. "Ocean time," I marveled. On our walk we had discussed some loose hopes that this visit was inspiring, ways that this time together was encouraging us to change our post-visit lives, and we sifted through Juhi's memories of SF and the different emotional chapters of her life here. Maybe it's our age, where we're always searching, but it feels like making a home is just as much a continual process of making the place you live feel new to yourself as it is about familiarity, and our pilgrimage down Clement felt like a testament to that--how much there always was to discover as we walked past inviting family restaurants and cafes that Juhi had never seen before and wanted to return to later. It was both hopeful and exciting and a little despairing, would any of it ever be enough? All of this only matters insofar as you have people you love to share it with... When we rounded the bend past Land's End we stopped short as Ocean Beach stretched out ahead of us in the orange bath of the sunset. Sea foam, which I'd only ever seen one other time, dotted the gleaming expanse of the sand that had just been exposed by the sinking tide, and small clusters of people facing the sun were interspersed with these small alien mounds. As we stepped onto the beach, I crouched down to gently brush the surface of a foam clump, so light and airy that I felt almost no sensation against my fingertips. Juhi was laughing in amazement and we watched as the sea foam scuttled along with the wind, leaving small bubbles in their wake. "They're like, gotta jet!" I joked. Everybody at the beach was on ocean time, and as Catherine joined us on the benches near the parking lot to witness the rest of the sunset and the transition into bonfire time ("the clans"), the fact that we were all here to revel in this natural beauty made it feel like we were experiencing some collective, fundamentally human moment. "I am always tying up / and then deciding to depart," Frank O'Hara writes in "To the Harbormaster." Here, Juhi and I have been in continuous dialogue, dreaming and dissecting. Each moment feels stretched to its capacity for inspiration or sensory pleasure, but despite this my sadness continues to bob to the surface, here to stay for awhile. I have been projecting this onto SF, its friendly and colorful houses with their faces open to receive the sun, the indifferent comings and goings of the people on the street. I could not live here, I think to myself in these moments, but it's not the city's fault, I just can't cope with sitting still and am always planning, stacking plans to pre-empt the sinking feeling that my life is just emptiness... Every day here has felt like a creative endeavor, we keep the plans loose until the moment arises that we want to do them, creating more space for spontaneity, wonder, deeper quality time together... I have many things to consider and carry back with me to NYC, but for now I'm done with the self-reflection. Of the many things I'm manifesting for 2023, my top three: - more ocean time - more organizing - learn how to do crow pose