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Sitting Here in Limbo

On the final approach to SFO last night the fog was as beautiful as I had ever known it, a thick white sateen rope draped casually on the mountains, and the rumpled waters of the Bay were sparkling, and it was all so beautiful I was torn between looking and not looking, knowing this was the last time I would see the Bay Area as my home, not a beautiful playground where I once lived.

On the 23rd we took off for Tallahassee in Sandy’s car in a trip that was largely offline except for occasional peeks at my email through my Treo. While I was offline, Pluto was banished from the solar system, Forbes declared that men should not make passes at women who wear corporate glasses, and John Mark Karr was cleared of charges he had killed Jonbenet Ramsey. I won’t take responsibility for oafs at Forbes or the media feeding frenzy around Karr, but I do feel that if only I had been online, sending good vibes over the Web, Pluto would still be a planet.

I’m back just long enough to oversee the shipment of household goods, cats, and my car. Today, whenever I wander back in the house, the cats woo me, arching their backs when I pet them and doggishly following me room from room. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. I tried to convince the cats that they should drive my car to Tallahassee, but that opposable-thumb problem loomed larger than I expected. I agreed with them that opening hotel doors is tough when you can’t hold a room key card. I am still confiscating their cell phones so they can’t call their lawyers when the cross-country flight doesn’t meet their unrealistically high expectations.

The trip was wonderful, Tallahassee is pleasant, our new home is delightful. Life will be good for us in Tallahassee in many ways. But here in a house I will leave in less than a week, surrounded by taped boxes, I’m feeling the tug on my heart of the conclusion of a grand midlife adventure that brought us here five years ago, a journey I do not regret but which confirmed for me the lesson we all eventually learn, that we cannot go home again. California is the perfect place with the perfect weather and the perfect cuisine and the perfect-perfect everything, but it is not where I grew up. That country no longer exists.

Someone asked me if I would write on this trip. I took pictures and notes, whcih is like saving up for a writing splurge. I have some fragments. But I need some distance–not as much distance as in some of the essays I’ve written, but more than I have now. It will be a travel essay, but it will be time travel. Meanwhile, I’ll get the pictures uploaded to Flickr Real Soon Now; I didn’t take a huge number (over 100, but you know digital cameras–I typically shoot far more than I upload), but some will have what I hope are amusing captions.

Today I am attending to My Place Of Work, simply because I was gone so long and will have so many interruptions next week that I need to work to not fall behind. Besides, I was born on Labor Day (this year my birthday fell on another weekday), so working on Labor Day feels right. Or perhaps it just feels busy, which is not bad, either.

Thanks for all the comments on my essay fragments. I’m shipping the essays around–well, I say that, but with everything afoot, I’ve only sent out one; October and November will be important months for manuscript-schlepping. The final essay, “David, just as he was,” which you will see tomorrow, takes place in the California of my youth–a wonderful place to have been from.

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