I used to know them. Possibly all of them. Sometime after moving to HelLA, when Google Earth was still a new product, I made a flythrough of all the places I’d lived. A few were approximate, and I’m sure I started only notionally in HelLA before the litany of addresses in the Bay and UK – Unit 1, women’s co-op, Dwight, funny summer sublet that the dead guy from Sublime had rented, Piedmont/Oakland, MLK couch, the Mission, Ward, Warehouse, Fyfield, Iffley, North Oxford, (redacted), Goldhawk Rd, West Ken, LES, UWS, West Village, East Village, Brooklyn, aaaand back to WeHo. And then the list continued – midcity, Silverlake, Echo Park. And now, my ultimate fear, back to the suburbs. As if all the in between places didn’t happen. (Apparently, I do in fact know them all still. But that’s not my point.)

Which of course isn’t true. This isn’t the leaving of Ox, or even the leaving London despair of present and future purpose (though return still looks slim). This is a move cross-town to save time, lots and lots of time, for people large and (more importantly) small.

The tangible scars of my past can live again. Not the burns or pierces or tattoos – the BOOKS. No longer in boxes in the basement, the selves that rose and fall, lived and died, and folded tens of thousands of pages over to varying depths. Who failed to read, and failed to fold, chastened, even humbled, by the staggering expanse of unread pages. On bookshelves, freshly ordered for delivery in 10 days.

A walk up in the wet from a bar I’m fond of, but never lived at. A last hike tomorrow, I think, more meaningful, a thousand loops later. Likely without the 35 pounds, though. Toddlers don’t experience nostalgia, I don’t think, in the ways I do.

Though, I think we’ll come back to look at the mustard flowers.

Monday August 11th 2014, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Boozy,departure Tags:

It’s not your fault, he said.

I didn’t quite know. Thanks for that.

they walked
Saturday June 11th 2011, 11:56 pm
Filed under: damn,departure,exit pursued by a bear,leaving,memory,seasonal,teaching Tags:

I didn’t, not in the way that matters. And she gave birth to a healthy little girl (mazel tov), and I didn’t. All these passings and passages and rites thereof, speeches and words and photos and moments you’re supposed to remember. And I don’t, really. Or worse, I do, to the letter, but not the why, not the part that made you want to remember it in the first place. Significant for the process, the experience, not merely the symbolic. “What I am to you” says the music in the background. I’ve never known, but perhaps I thought I knew then. ….[update]. In Spite of Me the next track, all too apt in its all too aptness. Perhaps not far off what I feel for these not-really-kids. Another annual rite of passage, tomorrow, as my father sacrifices himself on the altar of his own mediocrity for another year, while Mark Sandman and I are hanging, late tonight, in my living room.

Regularly scheduled

Tonight’s regularly scheduled Nostalgia-Fest(tm) has been delayed due to eminently foreseeable circumstances. A contract offered, yesterday, an early morn and the closure of an exam today. One to London, one to New York, one here for a bit before heading to San Francisco, one to the Air Force and another back to his baby boy. They don’t tell you, not the places you’ll go, but the people you’ll say goodbye to as they go to those places. And so, flint (as is apparently the case with my Reading Abbey wall fill rubble) to the tinder, movies of promise and regret and loss before it’s lost to spark the few bits of fuel not already consumed.

Adventures, anew
Sunday January 30th 2011, 12:01 pm
Filed under: departure,friends,leaving,seasonal Tags:

Another goodbye. To a friend, long-known but really only a true, close friend in the last few years since I moved back to this ridiculous, preposterous city of my birth. He’s off, to Japan, for adventures. For a new life. For an uncertain future. With admirable courage, he looked around his life, after the death of his father and the ending of a long relationship, and said ‘Fuck this. There is better to be had, more to be done’. And thus, a ticket to Tokyo, the outlines of a dozen plans, any of which (or, none, but I’m rooting for any) can make it all work, set the stage for the next stage. Another friend, his friend, my friend, the friend who was annoyed he had two friends who clearly should be friends but weren’t friends, he, too, has adventures up next. Money saved, longtime job left. Mountains to climb here, mountains to climb there, and then a planned motorcycle trip across continents, South America, maybe Africa, maybe Europe. An almost unimaginably vast adventure, where everything is always ahead, and even looking back is a looking forward, to the next thing encountered. Adventure as facing not only the unknown or unexpected or unexperienced, but as the freshness brought to that forward-looking state. And friends looking for work, one to fly east for an interview next weekend at a small liberal arts college, the other returning to the UK to finish, finally, his grad work, having overcome insane medical adversity to get there. And I? Are all my adventures past? Found a job, found love, found the yuppie track and have several olive oils and several more vinegars in a cupboard somewhere. “I want to live where I can buy duck”, someone said to me a few weeks ago. I guess I do, even if it’s never occurred to me to buy duck, nor to measure the civilization-quotient of my residence by its availability. What’s next? The clock ticks, the answers will arrive sometime in the next 18 months ago, but the answer isn’t to the ultimate question, “Should I stay or should I go now”, but rather, “You can stay or you can go now”. Certainty of choice, not of solution. And would I be happier if the choice was taken from me, adventure thrust upon me? And would I be happier if, given the choice, I chose the road never taken: thanks for the life/style and the vote of confidence, I’m off? And is it about ‘happier’? Is that what matters most, of the choices on the table? Do I still care about what it al means? Whatevs. Long ago, I wrote a farewell to a friend who went to Zimbabwe on these pages, tears in my eyes and doubt and grief in my fingers as my own uncertain future lagged a little behind his. 6+ years on, I know that thousands of miles don’t fuck with these friendships, that run ever so much deeper than distance or time. But, you will be missed, Japan-bound friend. You will be much missed, but you have made the right choice: the sky is higher, there, the horizons clearer, brighter, more meaningful. For once, the weather here matches my mood, the sound of rain on a roof and clattering down a poorly-cleared gutter. You will be missed, but you remind the rest of us that stasis isn’t the only choice.

return, reverse

Coming to the West Coast used to be a visit, a destination of excitement and desire, frustration and elation, promise, release, and a certain drawing out. Hit the ground running, a radical shift from “my” life to “my life”, if that makes any sense, which it really doesn’t, but I’m none too fussed about the matter as no one really reads this, and I’m jetlagged regardless. Returning to England meant workworkwork, clear out desires and distractions, and return to the work that was always at hand. But this last trip, this last return (to where?), clarifying. Back here, recommendation letters to write before the end of the week, comments on papers delayed since June, articles to write and book reviews and page proofs to check and a class to prepare. Workworkwork. Jumping through hoops I’m unconvinced by, knowing I (we! oh lovely we.) desire to return, to move to England, to stay there, to return, as I promised myself, in triumph, not hamstrung by visas and limitations, but properly. So it’s 9am and it feels like early evening contemplative hour; it’s time for a second pot of coffee, but a drink feels about right. Warning: Travel May Clarify What You Want.

Spartan’s Arrow, Swifter, etc.
Tuesday July 15th 2008, 10:20 am
Filed under: departure,hangover,holidays,leaving,libraries,Oxford,tired Tags:

Off to Ingerland in 6 hours. Packing for a month in Little Green (the replacement to Little Red, which died in Notting Hill on the way back to the airport last April, a timely and noble death), which is a bit challenging. But fuck it – I used to travel for 4 to 6 weeks with shit stuffed in a single army surplus backpack. The fine line between over and under packed, when space is limited. The head is kind of shitty today, but fuck it. A column to edit (don’t ask), hair gel to buy, and maybe a quick shopping trip for an extra sweater if there’s time. Which I suspect there will be. 45 minutes to pack. Kinda scary. But 2+ weeks of manuscripts and friends and pubs and long walks around a country, around places, where my heart lives. And then another stretch, of wedding, family, and quiet time with YCT in the Yorkshire Dales (and maybe a quick manuscript run to Durham…..). Trembling with excitement, but also anxiety. Not sure why. I miss it so. “Both of us know that that’s impossible / and both of us know that I could make you rue the day/ But I could never make you stay / Not for all the tea in China.”

grief, unexpected
Thursday December 06th 2007, 2:43 am
Filed under: bastard,damn,departure,exit,exit pursued by a bear,grief,leaving Tags:

I should have known things were going all too well.  A colleague is departing.  Doesn’t that sound nice and clinical and not at all a big deal?  Better, perhaps, “the senior colleague who has generously mentored me, and become in short order a true friend, is leaving for pastures proverbially, though certainly not literally, greener.”  Fuuuuuuuuucccccccccckkkkkkk.  Having spent entirely too many late nights in the office (Fri, Sat, Mon, Tues) leading up to the talk this afternoon (it went fine. B+, I think) and reading these damn hiring files (meeting tomorrow at noon), I’m gonna go home and drink me a bottle of wine.