Nov. 2nd, 2011

michiexile: (Default)
So I have lived in a few places by now: Stockholm, Nürnberg, Jena, San Francisco, Edinburgh (though barely this as of yet). And today, in-flight, I was struck by how different it has been leaving the various places I have passed through.

In particular, I lived in Jena about as long (give or take a few months) as I did in San Francisco. When I left Jena, it was melancholy to leave my old friends behind, as it always is — but it was the beginning of a new adventure, an emerging from a chrysalis, in some sense. And I was not particularly homesick for Jena afterwards.

Returning to Jena has been similarly undramatic. It is pleasant, and I love reconnecting with all my old friends and hang-outs, but it didn't haunt me when I had to leave again.

San Francisco is … different.

San Francisco got under my skin.

I write this at the Charles de Gaulle airport, having left after my second visit back to Fog City after I moved away. And I am endlessly fascinated with just how many layers of complex and conflicting emotion I build up.

I am hours away from coming back home to my wife, after almost a full month apart. I am elated, and filled with anticipation and joy at coming home to her, seeing her again, holding her, enveloping myself with her scent, …

I am filled with energy and enthusiasm for all the work I have to do the coming month — the paper I am writing, the research projects that have surged during the trip and now can be consolidated in a fall and early winter filled with glorious research.

And at the same time, my thoughts go as often to the friends I left behind, again. To the wonderful reception I get whenever I come to San Francisco, of memories of all my old haunts, favourite hang-outs, dear friends.

San Francisco felt like home when I lived there, and it still does.
Leaving brings out the same melancholy and separation, over and over again.

Which is not to say that Stockholm doesn't feel like home — they both do, and it is more than a little frustrating to be stretched out emotionally like this.

And it saddens me, right now, that I do not know when I will be returning to the Bay. Last two times I left, I had return dates in place. This time, there is nothing actually planned.

Au revoir, San Francisco, au revoir. Je t'aimerais toujours.

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