Leaving is never easy. I lie awake at night thinking about all of the little things I need to do before I go. I worry about Calvin getting enough to eat and drink, getting constipated, getting the right amount of medicine at the right time. I worry about him having seizures or withdrawals or migraines or night terrors (or whatever they are). I lament knowing that my trip won't be long enough to see everyone I want to see, to linger in the spaces I want to linger in, or to explore the places I've never been. I wonder if Calvin, who in every way seems unaware of my going will, perhaps viscerally, know that I am gone. I worry that my absence will stress him somehow. My hope is, perhaps, different from that of parents with typical kids: I hope Calvin is completely clueless of my departure.

I worry about Nellie and Michael, too.

I'll be setting down this evening in San Francisco, a place I lived for a decade before moving to Maine seventeen years ago. It's a city I think of as home, a place I haven't been in over twelve years, the city where Calvin was conceived, a place I dream of often. In my dreams, it isn't really San Francisco; it's more of a puzzle of the city that has been put together wrong. It has beaches and ocean and bridges and hills and old architecture and vistas, but something about the dreamscape is wrong. Perhaps it is the light or the energy or the fact I find it so hard to get around. Still, I dream about it.

Sitting here in the Newark airport, I wonder how much San Francisco has changed and if I might dislike those changes. Or will it still hold the magic I remember so well—the happy buzz of folks like me transplanted from elsewhere? The sunsets, the murals and graffiti, the aromatic flowers, the rambling star jasmine, the people of all different walks, the sunshine, the Pacific, the glorious sounds of trolleys, cable cars and foghorns.

I'll let you know.

San Francisco, photo by Les Young

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