Whims, regrets and me.

I often make decisions on a whim, this suits me most of the time, but sometimes my impulsiveness puts me in very precarious positions.  The other day I read the following quote posted by “the cool hunter” on his facebook page.  No other quote has related to me so well.

“Do not live with regret, at the time, it was exactly what you wanted”

Pertinent.

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Home vs. Home

I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day, waiting for an interview and sipping on some delicious tropical iced tea when the woman across from me stood up in the crowded store and went to the bathroom.  She left behind all her belongings, including her handbag and a Macbook worth over $1000 for 10-15 minutes.  She didn’t bother to ask anyone to keep an eye on her things, she clearly assumed that no one would take them… and no one did.  This came as huge shock to me after being away from home for so long and the weird part is, it is something I would have done prior to moving away.

It has been quite the adjustment moving from Cape Town, South Africa to San Francisco, California after two years being away.  I knew before making the move, that there would be adjusting and that it would most likely be difficult as it is always very confusing when I return home after a long period of time and things have changed, including myself.  It is also, in my opinion, a true test of my inner strength and a testament to how resilient I truly am.

Since I have returned I realized that I am much more weary of people than I was before I left; if a suspicious looking person, such as a crackhead is in my path, I get anxious and cling to my bag tighter.  This anxiety and fear of other human beings was not present before I moved to Cape Town.  The first week I was here in SF, I was out with a friend having coffee and as night fell and I realized we were going opposite ways on our journeys home, I got scared and began jogging home; never in all my years of living in San Francisco previously had I been scared to walk around at night.  I lock doors and windows without thinking about it; my roommate reminds me it isn’t always necessary.  I find it interesting how I have been trained to be so vigilant and pro-active in protecting myself from the outside world and how I have had to remind myself repeatedly since I have been back that I no longer need to be so extreme about it.

It feels like a weight has been lifted  and a new independence has been returned to me.  I purposely walk everywhere, skipping buses or trams just because I can.  I chat with strangers.  I stay out after dark, alone.  I ride public transportation with a myriad of races, classes and creeds.  It is as if a whole new world has opened for me and I didn’t quite expect it to be so dramatic.

This in no way means that I do not miss Cape Town or that I think it is a horrible place to live; I love South Africa and think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world with some of the most amazing people.  I realize now, how absolutely privileged I am to be born into a country where I don’t have to be fearful all the time.  There isn’t a large population of people that are so desperately poor that  they must succumb to stealing or violence in order to survive; it exists, but not in the same capacity.  This isn’t to say that we don’t have crime or that there aren’t bad neighborhoods here, because clearly there are, but there is a stark difference to the level of fear I must possess to protect myself here versus South Africa and as sad as that makes me, it is a reality.

Freedom returned.

Adjustment

Adjusting to a place that was home for so long is odd.  It is strange to have people ask me where I am from; has my accent gotten that displaced?  Noticing the stores that closed down or have been replaced.  MUNI card replaced by a Clipper.  No real place that is mine (even if my lovely friend tries her best to make me feel like it is).  Friends moved away.  Old friends moved here.  Awesome and sad.  Expecting everything to be exactly the same as I left it two years ago, only to realize that everyone has changed, and so have I.

Transitions, love, sadness, pure joy, familiarity, new.


The Job Hunt.

I have been here for a week now and I have managed to get myself a contract job for a financial firm.  Unfortunately it is only a two week gig and through a recruiter- ugh.  It does irritate me that a recruiting company is taking a percentage of my hard earned wages; I suppose I shouldnt be ungrateful, I am very lucky to have any sort of employment at all.  I am just eager to have a full-time permanent placement at a cool office with cool people so that I can move off my friend’s couch.

It has been one week and so far I have changed my name, gone to several interviews, renewed my drivers license, and gotten myself some work.  I guess I’m not doing so bad, I just need to be more patient and less anxious about all of this.

It will come.  In time.

Surprise, Surprise.

When I decided to leave San Francisco to travel with Gareth, I honestly thought that I would be back within 6 months, never once did I think that a temporary move to London would turn into a 2 year stint in South Africa. What did I have to lose?  I was laid off and the economy was tanking.  So, I divided my things: one pile was what I could fit into the two allotted suitcases that the airline would allow me to tow along and the other, much bigger pile, were things that I would leave behind.  I packed for the summer, didn’t include too much of my business wear and left my treasured trinkets behind.  

This wasnt much different from my actions when I moved to San Francisco.  I packed what I could into my two suitcases, got in my 1985 Jeep Cherokee and drove the 8 hours into the city I had ached to live in since I had first visited when I was 18.  Upon arrival, I had no bed, no furniture at all and no job.  I slept on a cold wooden floor with a pillow and blanket for about 6 weeks before I could afford a bed.   I would never have asked my parents for money; I knew what my Mom’s response would be: “Move home”.

I find myself in a very similar predicament and for some reason, now that I am older, the fearlessness I once possessed has diminished a bit.  Perhaps it is because I feel responsible for another human being.  I can no longer galavant around, free and without fear, doing what I like.  

I know that things shouldnt matter so much, but sometimes, “things” can be really comforting.  Before I left San Francisco to follow my heart, I had asked the maintenance man to store my things for me, and he did, free of charge.  Lucky me.  I honestly thought that after two years these things would be gone.  Doug the maintenance man has now left his position as maintenance man at my old building and this led me to believe that I truly never would, see my things.  

I phoned the landlord who knew nothing of my stored belongings and even expressed irritation that his old maintenance guy would store something free of charge, but he took me to look in the closet I had left all my things in a couple years before.  I wished, I hoped, I may have even said a little prayer; when that closet door opened my heart stopped a minute and then I saw them: those three boxes I had haphazardly packed so long ago sat there waiting for me.

I have spent the day unpacking these precious boxes, reminiscing and feeling pure glee at things I had forgotten.  Finally, I am able to put things that belong to ME in the place I am living.  Finally I can see and touch all the little trinkets I collected during my travels, all my favorite shoes and scarves- it is a reunion that has made my somewhat lonely transition bearable.

So, perhaps things shouldnt mean so much and I could have lived without them, but I must admit, I am so overjoyed to be able to touch and see and organize all my things I had so carefully collected throughout my life.

Thank you Dougie the Maintenance Man- you have made me feel at peace in this sort of lonely place I was in.

P.S.  I now realize how absolutely spoiled I was.  I have about a billion shoes, several scarves, tons of shirts and pants and an abundance of coats.  God Bless America and its excess.

Welcome Home.

After two years living in South Africa, I am finally back home in my beloved San Francisco.  The 26 hour flight with a 3 hour layover was intense to say the least and I found myself in a bit of a daze upon arrival.  This didn’t stop me from taking a shower and going straight to a Mexican taqueria for a massive carne asada burrito or prevent me from going to the Verzion Wireless Store to pick up an Iphone 4.  Ahhhh the luxuries of the Western World.

I felt this mixture of elated excitement and complete sadness as I boarded my first plane.  It is the first time in my life I have ever experienced two emotions from opposite sides of the spectrum so intensely.  Odd is the only word that I can find to describe this feeling.  

 There were times during the long flight that I felt like I was going to go insane if the damn plane didnt land soon and towards the end,  a wave of fear washed over me when the pilot announced we were 20 minutes away from landing in San Francisco International Airport.  A couple tears managed to escape as the plane taxied to our gate and I found myself feeling very overwhelmed with doubt and regret of leaving behind the comfort zone we had taken two years to create.

The BART ride was long and I made small talk with my lovely roommate as I was being pulled into the city I left behind.  After taking a shower, we headed out to the Mission District, a Latino area of the city with all sorts of funky restaurants, bars and an abundance of Mexican food (also my favorite district btw).  The #14 bus, a usual route from my days prior to moving, was full of local entertainment.  First of all, I marvelled at the fact that I could ride public transportation safely and that it was so organized and frequent.  The mixture of races, ethnicities and sociology-economic levels riding public transport was a breath of fresh air and I was reminded of the typical American politeness when an older woman offered me the seat next to her with a smile.  Soon after boarding a man came and sat next to me, completely wreaking of chronic.  Maybe he had a medical marijuana license and was free to carry it as he liked, and even if he didn’t, it is illegal for the police to arrest a civilian for marijuana possession within the San Francisco city limits.  I then watched as the bus driver nearly hit a pedestrian and the ghetto woman from behind me screamed “OH SHIT!”-

I had finally arrived in San Francisco and I remembered why I had so desperately wanted to come back.

Transient.

I am looking forward to settling in again.   Having my own place, filled with my mementos, my decorative touch, photos and furniture that I pick out.   Starting a record collection,  Painting walls, painting canvasses (again).  Making a real home that represents my personality.  

These are things we haven’t had in the last two years.  Not that I am complaining about the places that I lived or where I live now.  Each place that I have had the privilege of living in, has been beautiful and have had all the conveniences I could ask for.   They just weren’t filled with our things.

Home is more than where you sleep, eat and zone out in front of the television.  It is a manifestation of all things you. 

We have avoided making our space personal because we knew we would have to leave it behind.  Furniture, records, paintings, photo frames, furniture; they are all too heavy and too expensive to have shipped to the States.

It will take time to make it happen but I am looking forward to that next step.