Friday, February 03, 2006

like a boa constrictor, babe

On Thursday morning, I woke up at about 3:30. This might have been a good thing, since I had to leave for the airport at 6 a.m, and had not yet packed. Also, no matter how early a flight, or how unprepared I am, I always take a shower before embarking. Flights are so desiccating that some moisture ahead of time is a must. But why did I wake up at 3:30? As much as I would like to claim that I am just that spry, just that filled with motivation, I am afraid I must admit the sad truth that I fell asleep around 6:30 the previous evening with the full intention of catching a nap. I should know better. The world is divided into nappers and non-nappers, and I have always been in the latter camp. By the way, I rather despise that expression- the world is divided into (x) and (not-x), and I do not know why I saw fit to use it just now.

Normally, waking up at 3:30 in the morning would be cause for much amusement. The disorientation that accompanies the slow realization that an intended nap turned into a slumber just seems ripe for laughter. It is so absurd. I convince myself I have control of my life, of my destiny, and then something as simple as my melatonin levels overturn all those assumptions with a nearly audible scoff. B*tch, please, they say. Did you really think you could mess with biology?

But the realization was sad that morning, because it meant I had dashed all chances of seeing Anna before I left for the west coast. I have a tendency to convince myself I will always meet the best people in my life over and over again. And while that is uncharacteristically optimistic, it is also dangerous, since it means I am far too casual about opportunities to see them. Every time I move, I tell everyone I will see them one last time before I move, but then I never do. I always follow that shirking of farewells with, "but it's not a big deal, because I'll be back to visit." And sometimes I am telling the truth and sometimes I am lying. And usually, I do not know which until years later.

At 6 in the morning, the air was so cold that it felt magical, like it was slowly freezing every part of me it touched as I inhaled. The cold tunneled into my stomach and into my head. I could nearly picture little crystals forming inside of me. After all, I am an ugly bag of mostly water. Is that something about the winter? Maybe I was more solid, more in place when I was experiencing winters annually. Maybe the west coast has turned me into a watery mess.

Later, I was in the air, told that I was above Cleveland, and reading How We Are Hungry, in particular, a short story called The Only Meaning of The Oil-Wet Water. And here stood a line that summed up so much of its sense of wonder: Planes and American imperialism make the world smaller; everyone is just a flight, or two, away. To be reading this on a plane, having just seen acquaintances new and old on the east coast, took the story to a different level. Because I, too, was amazed at the world we live in, if for a moment.

When I stepped out of SFO, it was neither warm nor cold. Exactly as it should have been. The familiar humidity touched my nose, my neck, my mouth- San Francisco's welcome lei's. As the cab bounced over bumps along the 101, the sun peaked in and out amidst fog that appeared like small, fallen clouds on the hills. There is nothing particularly beautiful about the 101, but everything was beautiful about the 101 nonetheless. Yes, I melted again, into a watery mess. But the thing is, I think I like the chaos of water over the order of ice.

I think that is how you know you have found your home. Never have I been sad to return here, even at times when I had been happy to leave.

Just to make sure I make at least one off-topic observation, let me mention this. Do you know what makes perfect sense? To get your teeth cleaned. And then to eat a burrito.

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