I’ve started working on the book again–after too long a break to deal with some distractions that sucked up my time–and it feels great to be writing again. I’m happy with the progress I made last November (during my failed attempt at NaNoWriMo) and I’ve jumped back in with both feet. I’m thinking a lot of San Francisco, as this book will always feel like the city to me. That’s where I started it, and the book was a large part of why I went out there, why I stayed so long.
I’ve been thinking about riding the N-Judah line from the Sunset district toward downtown, listening to music on headphones, thinking about life and the story I was writing and how much I missed Jesse and how heartbreakingly beautiful San Francisco was. I remember watching Duboce Park slide by the windows of the train, couples lounging on the brilliantly green grass, dogs running off leash in the dog park, children scampering all over the playground equipment, the park flanked by lovely pastel houses, and I always wondered what it would be like to live in one of those houses, to walk to the park and sit on the grass, whenever.
If you look up Duboce Park on Google maps, your view of the park itself will be blocked by the train, but you can spin the view around to Noe Street, where my sister-in-law Becki and I walked from the Castro to catch the N line back home. It was cold that evening, as we walked in the shade of lovely old houses and lovely old trees and dreamed about moving out here. We just missed the train, so we sat on a bench in the park as the sun got lower in the sky and the wind grew a little colder. Becki was wearing a huge red and black “Cruella de Vil-ish” coat she’d brought because she couldn’t wear it in Florida, and she was warm. We’d just been to see Billy Elliot and had eaten dinner at a fancy place in the Castro, where I’m sure people thought we were on a date. It made us laugh–the whole thing, the coat and the date and missing the train and the cold wind.
That evening, we quickly changed out of our dresses and into jeans and sweatshirts and caught the N-Judah out to the beach to watch the tail end of the sunset. Becki ran into the water, soaking her feet in the rowdy Pacific, and when we went back to my apartment it was dark. She left the next morning, and I was alone again, writing every day, catching the train downtown to visit Chinatown or to wander the Ferry Building or to try my first In ‘N Out burger at 3:00 p.m. on a weekday. Every time, passing Duboce Park–and it always seemed sunny there in that little park, not long before the train dipped underground and sped away.
There are memories like that, resurfacing, as I continue working on this project, as I dig up images and smells and sounds and try to translate them into words on a page. It’s a lovely process, writing this book, and I wonder at times what on earth made me neglect it so long. No matter now–I’m back.