A Wonderer's Return to California, One Year Later

Published: March 17th 2019
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4th and King Street, San Francisco– Several months ago (although it feels like yesterday... time really does stand still when the seasons blend together) I found myself at the 4thand King Street train station waiting for our ride back to the Salinas Valley, which I have accepted as my home now. As we were waiting, I had flash backs to the last few times I was at that station waiting for a train, and how much my life had changed each time.

The first time was my first visit to San Francisco since childhood. It was in November of 2017, and I was interviewing all over the United States for a new job. I had an interview in a little suburb north of San Jose, and decided to (finally) take my old college roommate and darling friend Cindy’s offer to visit her in San Francisco. She lived near the train station and pointed my way there. At that point in my life I was well - chubby for one thing - slightly depressed, and needing a way out of the life I was leading in Chicago. I remember getting on the train and marveling at the demographic of the passengers around me – Silicon Valley was wealthy, cutting edge, and young. So young. My generation seemed to be leading the way in innovation and technology and I was very proud.

When I arrived to my Spanish revival hotel in San Jose, I looked outside and saw the sun setting against rolling knoll hills. I realized then it was time for me to return to California. This is where my family lives, and this is where my roots will be. In my heart I just knew I wanted to come back.

Fast-forward several months to June 2018. I was back at that train station on 4thand King Street in San Francisco, but this time I was in tears. First, I did end up back in California and near the area I interviewed for, but for a different job. Actually in an area that was far more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed. What were the odds of that? But this time my mood was different. I looked at the schedule board for my train through blurry vision – I had spent the day intermittently crying while trying to find Cindy at Mission Dolores Park for her farewell picnic as she (ironically) got ready to move to Chicago. The night before, I had what I like to refer to as a conversation of my life. Someone very near to me who I loved very much told me things that completely changed what I knew about him… and about us. I was stunned and speechless and did not know how to react. Besides clogging the toilet while he slept (because when is my life not a damn comedy??) I cried. A lot. After he left, I sat on the bed and just cried. My tears followed me throughout the day. It was so much to take in, and I still think about that conversation to this day. Yes, he is still in my life and yes, I still love him.

Fast-forward again several months to October (?) 2018. My very good and kind work friend Cheryl and I were at the same station waiting for our ride back home. We took a Friday off from work to visit the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to apply for our visas – we were going to Beijing and we were so excited about it. Waiting at the Chinese Consulate to drop off your passports (yikes) for visa processing is worse than waiting at the DMV. I suggest an appointment. After that long day and while we were waiting for our train, I thought about the previous two times I had been at that exact same spot. Each time was a completely different circumstance than the previous. I think at that point I had already returned from a trip to Europe for my brother’s wedding, and an impromptu trip to the east coast with my best friend to help him move from D.C. to Maine. And here I was about to go to China for the first time.

I haven’t returned to that train station since. I often wonder what circumstance will lead me back, and that thought leaves me in awe and slightly afraid. I am not sure why, but it could be the fear of how much life can change in such a short time. I have been in Monterey for a year now, and so much has already happened just in 2019 alone. I had to let go of someone I really cared about, which was hard but ultimately good and necessary. I am moving blocks away from the beach to a newer, hipper area than I am in now. I am meeting more people, and I am realizing how much I cherish and value the friends I have. I am traveling often (Chicago next month!) And my best friend is back in my life. I suppose he is the one constant throughout this whole madness, even though I thought I had lost him a few times. But no, here we are again and I am glad for it. I guess love truly never dies, and that is a wonderful thought. So everything is okay for now, and I really don’t feel the need to visit San Francisco.

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