Driving in to work this morning, my suitcases packed and my traveling clothes fresh (I wear a tie to travel), I was not as excited about the trip as I usually am by that stage, when all the advance stuff is done. I realized after a minute, though, that my general mood was related to the latest worrisome concerns about my company in general (and distressing conversations just before I left yesterday) and had nothing to do with the trip itself. Now I am imagining that arrival at the San Francisco airport, and that first view of the hills off to the west, and the drive up 101 to the Noe Valley neighborhood where I stay with my friend Doug in his charming Victorian.
San Francisco has always been the city I keep as my vacation place. About eight years ago I found myself in a work situation where I could have moved to the Bay Area and it would have involved literally no change in my job, except for finding office space in Mountain View. Half my group, at that point, was based in California. More than half my projects were based in California. I could have left work in Minnesota on a Friday and walked in to work in California on a Monday and it would have made no difference. The "it would be great to move to San Francisco" background theme that often played lightly in the background got louder with the foot-tapping arm-folded thought of, "So what's stopping you?"
OK, I really didn't want to leave Minnesota and I knew that. But what I realized at that point was that I do not want to associate San Francisco with day-to-day life. I don't want it to be a place where I worry about rent and parking and cooking and cleaning and all the various things that eat up so much of time. I want San Francisco to be the place that is only vacation time. Even when I am in California for work, work is down the peninsula and I stay at a motel in Palo Alto. San Francisco is glorious mornings looking up at Twin Peaks from Doug's front stoop, drinking the coffee I picked up on 24th street. San Francisco is walking up and around those hills, with the stunning views over every peak. San Francisco is filling my days and evenings with dinners and bar trips with friends I see rarely. I do not want San Francisco to have even a hint of the wearisome workaday world.
So I know how I'll feel as I turn off onto Cesar Chavez road. I know how I'll feel as I drive across the Bay Bridge tonight to see some friends in Oakland and perhaps attend a gay and lesbian contra dance that a friend of mine (who lives in Boston) is calling. I know how I'll feel next weekend, which is the weekend I have set aside to walk the streets of San Francisco again. I'm remembering the bookstores I go to, and even the shopping I do (although I do much less of it now than I used to). Yeah, this will be a good thing.