Why Am I Here?


Whenever people find out I’m in San Francisco for the entire month of July, they ask why. This is a perfectly reasonable question, one I’d ask too were the situations reversed.

However, I still haven’t exactly figured out how to answer that question.

Why am I here?

First and foremost, to write. A large chunk of my novel is set here, and I need to smell the smells and see the sights and drink in the air that is San Francisco. Inspiration. Research. Call it what you will.

But I’m vaguely embarrassed at admitting I’m attempting a novel. I mean, who does that? (Okay, fine, a lot of people I know do that. But I’ve got a lot more confidence in them than I do myself.)

And then what do I tell all these people in two years when the novel has failed to find its place in the world and I’m onto yet another probably doomed project? Sigh. Well, I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. (I love that saying. Probably a little too much.)

There are other reasons why I’m here. Ones that are harder to articulate. After a difficult first half of the year, I needed to be here. Or, I needed to not be there or there. I guess I picked the furthest spot I could from my normal life. Sometimes, I think, a little escapism is exactly what you need. And honestly it’s working. I’ve felt sanity returning from almost the first moment I set foot on the West Coast.

I needed to be away from the heat.

I needed to eat more organic food.

I needed to do yoga multiple times a week.

I needed to be in a place where I had no one to impress. I needed to be in a place where it didn’t matter who I was or how exactly I chose to express that.

I needed beauty. I needed energy. I needed eight hundred thousand people nearby.

I needed to discover Fado, a traditional Portuguese style of music with sad lyrics in a language I don’t know.

I needed space. I needed to think. I needed clarity.

I needed to know who I was out of my normal environment. I needed to know what was me and what was my place and what was other people and their expectations and how to tell the difference.

And I’m sure there are other reasons I haven’t yet discovered. They’ll come at their own time.

So this morning (afternoon back at home), I’ll listen to more Fado and I’ll drink chai tea and I’ll write and I’ll write and I’ll write and maybe the novel will be a failure, but I will say: At least it got me July.

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