The city is not for us
Reflections after travel
Notes from a childless week in the Bay Area
Unspooling, loose brain, without responsibility, without agenda; thoughts come much quicker; the mind makes connections as if I were young again.
I read hungrily! As I had hoped I would!
But I also realized that I wouldn’t go back, if I could, to my childless life. Once you grow accustomed to those sweet little bodies and that routine of dependency and care, an unfettered life feels boring. It felt as if everything we did was without consequence or meaning.
Still, I’d escape again, in a year, very gladly, if given the chance. My saintly parents watched the boys the whole week and were absolute champions.
San Francisco feels like a city that has given up on itself. After a few days there, having found our rental car broken into and totally destroyed and walking miles of sidewalks dotted with human excrement, I never want to go back there. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The city is trapped in a doom-loop.
We’re not cut out for city tourism anymore. It was fun when we were young and unfettered, but now the metropolis makes us tired and sad.
In contrast, we felt calm and very alive out in the country, beneath the cool shade of redwoods and or under the bright sun, hiking miles alongside the Pacific and then in the yellow hills above wine country. We just want to look at birds and Seek unfamiliar plants and then maybe have a glass of wine and go to bed. This is all we want now, now that we are old!
Travel makes me love where I call home.
It was a rare gift to have so much uninterrupted time together.
One of the many reasons I know I made the right choice thirteen years ago is that we’ve never run out of fodder. We always have a great deal to say to each other. (And a great many bad jokes to make.)
We missed the boys, but they were having such a grand time with Juju and TT that they barely registered our absence. We got a tepid reception when we came home. There was some confusion (and commingled desire) that Juju and TT were, perhaps, staying forever.
So I think what I learned the most from [James Baldwin] is not that you can mine his work and find the quote that fits our progressive positions, but what I learned from him is that taking truly progressive positions can be devastatingly isolating. If everyone is woke, you may be called on to be something else, something a bit more difficult than that. If we live in an environment where we take the “right” opinion for granted as a given — “Oh, everybody knows that” — maybe you’re called on to explore the ideas that not everybody knows.
— Teju Cole, in conversation with Krista Tippett, February 2019 (source)
The Scent of Time, Byung-Chul Han
The Dutch House, Ann Patchett