Let's talk about San Francisco. It was the first place in the US i ever visited, in 1993, i think, and holidaying a few days confirmed all my childhood dreams of how desperately badly i wanted to move there some day. America was always the greatest place in the world growing up. The magical place where dreams came true.
I only finally gave up on those dreams in 2013, with a farewell tour, of sorts. For all of my teenage years and all of my 20s i wanted it so badly. For a very brief instant, in 2001/2002, i thought i was there. I mean, i was there. I spent a year living in small-town, red-state California, just a couple hours drive from the Bay Area. There was so much fucked up shit in that year, i was still a kid really, and we were trying to have a challenging adult relationship that probably never would have worked even had i been much older. But in spite of it all there are moments in that year i will never, ever forget, some of the most beautiful and perfect moments of my life.
God i haven't cried about this in years. Why am i crying now?
I loved America. I loved being up there in suburban-ass California. You can't get anywhere without a car, you can't even get to the grocery store without driving. Everything is a chain store. Everything is a great big freeway. To someone who has spent most of his/her adult life living in hip urban centers it sounds like hell, basically. Except it isn't, because America. The grass is so yellow, the sky is so blue, the asphalt is so gray, and wherever you go you bump into the most delightful characters who cannot help but passionately live their stereotypes. It's not really a stereotype any more because the people are so earnest about it, it's like you dived into the silver screen and now it's the folks in the audience who seem like the fantasy. It's larger than life, the reason the rest of the world thinks Americans are completely out of touch, and the reason the rest of the world just doesn't fucking get it at all.
I gave up. I fucking gave up. Now that i finally have enough skills and enough contacts i could probably swing an H-1B sponsorship and go live like an indentured servant in Silicon Valley somewhere until my green card came through 5 years later, i give up. I don't want to live like an indentured servant somewhere in Silicon Valley. I'm too old to spend another 5 years of my life in chains. I am educated, skilled and passionate, but that's not what USCIS cares about. And i can't hold it against them, because they are just a bureaucratic embodiment of that fabulous bubble that makes America feel so fucking great when you are on the inside and so wacky and impenetrable when you are not.
In a few weeks i am going back. My company is doing its annual corporate retreat, where the whole company sleeps, works and eats together in an Airbnb for a week. Then 12 of us (over half the company) have decided to follow that with a weeklong roadtrip through some national parks. It's going to be a rough couple of weeks. I have been living alone for 3 years now? Longer? In all that time i have spent only a handful of nights sleeping in the same apartment as someone else, much less in the same room, or the same bed. My freedom means fucking everything to me. I chose my freedom over the dream i held most dear for over 20 years. Spending two weeks trapped with these guys, spending two weeks without a driver's license, on the work dime, at the mercy of wherever they want to go... It's bringing back some of the worst memories of that year in the US, being helpless and dependent. But it's also a chance for me to revisit a few memories, and maybe make them better.
I don't know. I mean, it'll be work. And then, after the work, it'll be hanging out in a bunch of national parks where they don't have any bars. And even if there were bars, i couldn't really relax, because i'm depending on a designated driver, and i'm not able to get naked and collapse into my own bed at the end of it, or wake up in silence, or look at a redwood and fucking cry my heart out till i can cry no more.
I am still looking forward to it. It's not going to be the random aimless roadtrip of my farewell tour, where i drink in whatever the country has to offer and enjoy every roadside motel and biker bar i fall into. It's not going to be the dreamy year of windmills and cows and love and dust and tears. It's going to be something else. I hope something good. Maybe just a few good things. Maybe just an echo of a good thing.