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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Leaving San Francisco

On August 28th, I woke up in the embryonic dark of morning to leave San Francisco. It's been a long time coming, this leaving. It started around three years ago as a wistful "someday, I'll go home." Then it began to feel urgent. For the past year, it's been a silent demand, never wavering, never giving me much peace as I lived my life; whether I was cooking dinner in San Francisco or coaching spins in Ireland.

"Go home. It's time to go home now."

So I did. Here's a story about that, and it's all about me, and won't necessarily help your aerial career, but I'm going to tell you anyway, because I promised I would tell the truth and this is the truth of right now.

All together I've lived in San Francisco over 7 years. It hasn't been that long, you might say. You'd be right, but considering the years in question spanned the ages of 25 to 36, I think we can agree that anything that transpires at that time is fervently done.

I left it much the way I entered it...

with a suitcase and a backpack full of books. The amount of things I've amassed in the 11 years I've been on the west coast is probably normal for a decade of life, the detritus of domestic comfort, flatware and teapots and bathmats, and a whole heap of aerial rigging- all that's been shipped east. For the moment, we are free of it and the suitcase is a welcome substitution.

All our things carted off and the castle on the hill safely given to its new tenants, scrubbed clean and said goodbye to, we finally had some time to recover from the ordeal of GTFO.

I went for a walk two days before I left, to say goodbye to the city. I started where I ended- where my whole journey here started, in Castro. Under the watchful eye of the enormous rainbow flag, this the place I first came, barreling down market street being ushered forth from one uncle into the keeping of another, my two benevolent uncles- the one who goes to the ocean every day on a bicycle, and the other with whom I have lived upwards of three times under his care. It was there I was first deposited 11 years ago, in his wood paneled apartment at 18th and Eureka.

I walked down Market, past the apartment I illegally sublet for a year, the only time I've lived alone. I loved it- but I was terrified of being evicted so I never told anyone when the fridge broke. I lived that way for months, I learned exactly how long food could be left out before it went bad. Whole milk hardly at all, skim milk sometimes two days, butter a while. If you leave the lid on split pea soup it will keep for three days, but don't even think about it on the 4th. It will already be carbonated and the smell isn't worth the experiment.

Kristina used to stand there on the sidewalk and yell up at me, and I'd drop the key and she'd come up and we'd drink wine or have strawberries or who the hell knows what we did, but damn it was a good time.

And here's that section of Market street where some young fool attempted to mug Christy, not knowing who he was dealing with. She had pulled out her phone (to call me actually), when this chap of very poor judgement snatched it out of her hands and took off. He couldn't have known, but Christy? Is FAST. She put on the gas and went after him while his friend hollered behind them "look out!! Bitch's got wheels!". She tackled that bastard to the ground, took her phone back, ran another block and then finished her phone call to me. I believe she came over and we ate chicken or something like that.

And here's the open air market where I would buy almonds every Wednesday and eat them to the tune of 1/2 a pound a day. I was 25 and my metabolism was effortless, I had no knowledge I was eating 5x the daily recommended allowance of fat and who the hell cares, because I was learning circus arts and I was young and poor and fearless and I loved almonds.

I walked through that market trying to remember the creature that walked through it 10 years ago, eating almonds by the handful. It wasn't hard. Not much has changed, at the core. I ate a peach off a fruit stand without washing it, and bought a poem off of handsome young busker with an antique typewriter. He asked me for a subject and I asked him what he gets asked the most for. He said “love”. I rolled my eyes and asked for a poem about monsters. It was pretty damn good.

This is where I used to take the bus to one of the shadiest places on Market so I could walk the even shadier two blocks to go blues dancing every Friday night. Today a young man is resting on the sidewalk with his head on a duffel bag and his pockets full of spoons, listlessly scrolling on an iPhone. An elderly woman with a shaky voice is singing blues over a keyboard, some tourists smiling over her shoulders. I gave her all the ones in my back pocket and pressed on.

And here is a park I once spent three hours in on the phone with Shaun- we were still long distance and he was recently back from a stint on the submarine. It was the closest I could be to him to have his voice in my ear and at that time I could spend three hours in a park and no one would miss me. I don't miss those days but I'm glad we lived them.

And you know's too much, this story. Too much to do justice to, the bus rides and BART rides and sleepless nights. The endless rehearsals and late night gigs and glitter stuck under my nails. The false eyelashes I'd stick to the mirror afterwards and the buckets of quarters so I could do laundry around the corner. Achey walks home at 3am after go-go dancing for 4 hours, lugging a suitcase full of heels. Romps with many friends, so many afternoons, having nothing but a burning ambition and a pocket full of almonds.

Circus Center, Cayuga, Kinetic Arts, Aerial Artique, Great Star Theater, Trapeze World, Vau de Vire, Nekyia Dance, Temple Nightclub, DNA Lounge, Circus Automatic...there's nothing I can say but naming you mindlessly.

So, I'm going to accept that I can't do it justice. I'm going to post a bunch of pictures from 2008ish, and not enough either. These aren't listed in any order of importance and if you're not included it doesn't mean you didn't change my life or win my heart, it just means I can't handle this post, and I just have to walk away.

So I'm just going to say, Thank you, San Francisco. There is not, and could never be, any town like you.


CynthiaP said...


Unknown said...

I landed in San Francisco in 1997 at 18 and left in 2005 at 25. That city still resides dead center in my heart and soul. Reading your send off to one of the greatest cities made me cry. While, I am not the same girl today as then, that girl who flitted around the city shaped the woman I am today.
Thank you for posting this and giving me a morning to look back and sigh.

Unknown said...


Welcome home, love.

Ellie May Marshall said...

So amazing. I loved every minute of this and I totally relate to the love of almonds by the bucket load ❤️

M said...

ooking forwards to visiting you guys in the South :) love, M