Tue, 15 Apr 2008 18:46:18 -0700
Sometimes -- like when not only Arpy (remote) but Emily (local; fiercely so) decide to move from the sprawling wonder of rolling hills, golden afternoon light, organic vegetables year-round (because the ground doesn't freeze) and the food culture to go with it (complete with waiters who don't bat an eyelash but rather speak to the chef when you mention you're vegan), to Harvard (which has none of the above) -- I find myself getting caught up in the maelstrom of my twenties.
I mean by this, I think, something I've asserted playfully for a while, but may actually have more truth to it than first I thought: That one's (my?) twenties are about moving, life decisions, applying to grad school (or not), getting married (or not), &c. -- sorting out how it's all going to happen. (Which is not to say that I expect to know when they're done.) And they're about living it up, moving to California sight-unseen, and watching your friends do all of the above as you occasionally try to reconcile this software career thing that you've apparently fallen into with a sense of, oh, your parents' Ph.D.s and your friends' impending ones, their relationships, their progress -- especially those for whom it is conscientious. Because, as we all know, for me, it's not. Within any one thing, I try to progress; larger life goals, stated as such, have so far not been for me, though.
All of which ends up making me feel -- when Emily decides to go east for reasons that just can't be found here, west (the colleagues; the profressors; the name; the reputation) -- that this place is but a carefully-constructed simulacrum, a collective hallucination, a Brigadoon, even a Burning Man -- damn, is it real nice (cf. above-mentioned vegetables, weather); but sketchy on a few important details (deeply interested, intellectual, engaged peers (read: especially boys of that ilk to date)). This is the conclusion I must draw: Why else would we all come here to party, dunking our bread in local cold-pressed olive oil and drinking the wine of Napa and Sonoma valleys (and I don't mean those ugly chardonnays!), but ultimately, getting our proverbial ducks in a row, cite un-trumpable priorities and their fulfillment on the east coast -- and leave?
And even though aspects of these thoughts persist (I can't so readily dismiss my idea that San Francisco is somehow just not up to code on the intellectual-rigor front, a complaint which newly-divorced Maya confirmed over lunch today that her sister also had), events like the lovely wedding, Friday, of Danan & Manisha, right downtown, somehow affirm life as it is to be lived out here: The fact that their friends and family flew in from India, the U.K., and around the country for this; the endless folds of the bright saris and kurtas; the fragrant vegetarian food and local champagne and wines; the reception tables, each named after a place that was meaningful to their relationship, most of which were in San Francisco ("Collingwood St.," read one, "where we do arm balances, sweat, and levitate in Les's yoga class with Martin and Nori"); their first dance, a slow one to a Zero 7 song, followed by exhausting bhangra -- all of this, somehow, corroborates the reality of life, of relationships, here, in San Francisco.
Plus, even if this were but a walking shadow, a simulacrum, though, damn, is it a nice one! Spring is lavinshing all kinds of flowers around, as the jasmine flowers; the angel trumpets hang vertically off branches in the Lower Haight; the wisteria droops, pendant, purple, and articulatedly floral. Between the ceremony and reception Friday, I skipped down to Justin Herman Plaza in my prettily-colored, patchwork dress (it has pockets!), hair up in two knobs as if I were in high school, pinching my gold opera purse; I kicked off my black flats and sunned my bare arms and legs in the beautiful, unbelievably-warm eighty-degree weather, gazing up at bright green palm trees, the sun on the tower of the Ferry Building. God, it's pretty.
Everyone at the wedding (or so it seemed: shallow, soft wrinkles around their eyes and mouths) was in their late 30's, early 40's -- one couple rushed up, shellshocked: their first night away from their 7-month-old. Les and Joe, I learned, both made dramatic mid-career changes, the kind that I fantasized about doing when I moved out here. But hell, my mother had me when she was 35 (and I the eldest); all these people, these real San Francisans, are getting married, switching careers, in decades later in life than mine. For now, I'll attend their weddings; take their yoga classes; even go out with three different friends sequentially in one evening last night, ending up on a an old flame-red couch with an old friend (Ein Vogelfänger bin ich ja, he sang, the only German he knew). There's time yet.