Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pondering Place

I don't even know where to begin with our San Francisco trip. All I can say is that I have not stopped thinking about, daydreaming about San Francisco since we left. Sitting in my window seat in the plane on the tarmac delayed for more than 20 minutes I boldly proclaimed to Mr. B&B that this was a sign that San Francisco didn't want me to go, San Francisco wanted me to stay FOREVER.

I have always lived in Massachusetts, except for a brief six month stint in Rhode Island. I have always been proud of my "Hearty New Englander" status, but I've also always had a tendency to want to roam, a wanderlust, a sense that I might belong somewhere else. Somewhere else somethings and someones may be waiting for me.

We moved a lot when I was little. My husband and I have lived in three different places in the last five years. In total, I have moved 13 times in 28 years. Might this have something to do with my wanderlust?

As a child, my family rarely went on vacations. We spent lots of time on Massachusetts beaches. We traveled further very few times. Block Island when I was 4. Florida with Grandma and Poppa when I was 5. Bermuda for Thanksgiving when I was 6. Florida with Grandma and Poppa again when I was 13.

As a senior in high school, I took my first vacation without my family. It was a foreign language department trip to Italy and Greece. Driving up and down mountains, hopping from one Greek Island to another, wandering the cobblestoned piazzas of Rome, for the first time I fully felt that maybe where I was born was not where I belonged, not where I was meant to live. I returned to the U.S. and declared that I would be retiring to the Greek Islands, a Greek Island, I just wasn't sure which one yet. On our honeymoon 8 years later, my husband and I fell in love with Santorini and vowed to return there "some day" in the vague and distant future.

Walking the hills of San Francisco, looking out into the bay, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the mountain,

and fifteen minutes and a winding drive up and down a mountain later

dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach

I felt a sense of belonging.

I loved it. All of it.

The hills.

The cable cars.

The homeless man who gave us directions and then said, "May I ask you something? I mean no disrespect, but I am 46 and homeless and... I mean no disrespect, but is there anything you can spare?" You bet we gave him all our coins.

Golden Gate Park with its botanical gardens, Japanese tea garden, art museum, Academy of Arts and Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, and all the wonders we have yet to discover.

Barking sea lions under a setting sun.

Two story carousels.

Ballparks that serve veggie burgers.

Haight Ashebury with its street kids, vintage shops, & free records on the sidewalk.

Murals on buildings.

Oh, and that glorious bridge with Muir Beach only 15 minutes beyond and Sonoma only a half hour further away.

How do we know where we belong?

Because we were born there?

Because our family is there?

Because we have always lived there?

or because we feel a longing, a pull, a connection, an unfamiliar pitter patter in our hearts, and are consumed by this place as we feel it consume us?

All I know is that if it weren't for my husband and my kitty, instead of sitting on that plane I would have quietly risen from my seat, politely asked the stewardess to lower the stairs, and walked across the tarmac sure there was a place for me in this strangely familiar city.


  1. This my dear, feels my heart with joy. What an eloquent, beautifully written piece.

    i heart you big time mrs. alex p.

  2. I felt every moment of this. I know what you mean, but for me, I have found I belong where what matters to me resides. Sounds trite, but it's true.

  3. I must say that I understand how you felt on the airplane (I love the west coast of the US with all my heart) but I know deep down that I am where I am for a reason. Someday, maybe..;-)

  4. This is how my heart felt the first times I went to both Chicago and Seattle. In each locale there was something intoxicating in the air. Something that liberated my senses and awoke me to new adventures, new passions, and new sides of myself. Both of those first trips intoxicated me with a desire to relocate. THIS, I felt, was me. A new birth to the person I'd always imagined being. When the time came to depart I was saddened somewhat, as though I left part of myself behind.

    Then I arrived home, bringing new eyes to comfortable familiarity. When I returned to Chicago a second time, the same feelings returned. I could picture myself there. Riding my bike through Grant Park, learning to sail on the lake, evenings at Lincoln Park, easily succombing to the lures of a new residence, a new self.

    When I returned home this second time, I didn't miss it so much. I realized that I would always love Chicago, but that my life priorities led me somewhere else, and I loved it. I developed new appreciation for my home and for the value of a good vacation. I treasure those feelings and memories as I travel and wish to keep them special and unspoiled, trapped in my memory and occasional experience, where they may remain untainted by the mundane rituals of daily living.

    I love my life as is, wherever that may be.

  5. This is my first time to your blog, and this post struck a cord. I live in the SF bay area (now the East Bay, but SF for many years), and I do love it here. The funny thing is, I have always felt that sense of longing, connection, pull that you describe--but I have always felt it for New England. I have never lived there, but spent a lot of time there. There's just something about it for me. Great post!


Have a Brainy and Beautiful Day! Love reading all the Brainy and Beautiful Things you say <3