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Beep Beep, Beep Beep, YEAH.

I bought my Chevy Malibu around 10 years ago, mid-move from Houston to San Francisco. Halfway across the country, my previous car died a rather sudden but quiet death, leaving me with two choices: stay in Texas, or trade in the car and keep going. Given that this entire blog has been written during a decade in California, I don’t need to tell you which option I took.

The thing about SF is that you can very happily exist without a car, particularly if you, like me, live and work inside the city’s seven-by-seven miles. And so, my Malibu made it through nine years of San Francisco living with under 60,000 miles on its clock. San Diego is a different town, though, and I’m living 30 miles north of the city. For the first time in my entire life, I’m commuting a few days a week. I’m not a huge fan of it – I hate traffic and the aggression that seems to erupt from my fellow humans when confronted with five lanes of brake lights. Despite my low mileage, my CD player also recently broke. San Diegans apparently listen to a whole lot of 80s ad 90s rock (and not kind that I personally enjoy), so the radio isn’t my favorite situation here.

Instead, I find myself driving down the road babbling incoherently at myself.

I can’t help but wonder what my fellow commuters might thing, catching sight of me in the car. Thankfully, we live in the era of bluetooth, so I suppose I pass as someone having a very animated phone call. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

I’ve never been a car person in the slightest, but I am finally starting to see the appeal of having a particularly comfortable car. We spent several hundred dollars repairing my air conditioning, which broke years ago, and I feel like I’m living a life of total luxury! I’ve even pondered spending some cash on getting a nicer sound system – one that links to my phone, so maybe I could actually be talking to another human being instead of myself.

Then, of course, I balk against the idea of spending money on my car. It feels so incredibly materialistic, so… typical, somehow. And I realize that this is yet another way that I’ve defined myself as uniquely San Franciscan.

That’s a funny thing, the definition of oneself, isn’t it? Sometimes it feels expansive: I am _____! Other time, though, it feels limiting, like a border I’ve set around myself. I wonder where the edges are, and what’s beyond them.

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Write your own darn story

Whenever I’m having a bored moment, or a bummed moment, or a good-grief-things-are-insane-and-I-need-to-be-distracted moment, I open my RSS feed reader. On a good day, there will be one or two good posts, the kind that tell a story that gets me out of my own head for a moment or two.

More often than not, though, my feed is filled with sponsored posts and ten thousand unread recipes from 3-4 prolific cooking blogs.

I recently paid a relatively pretty penny to renew both my domain and hosting service. I almost let it lapse, and today, after receiving an urgent note that my domain had, in fact, expired, I coughed up the cash. And so, here we are. Most of my favorite blogs have sort of ended or signed off in a similar fashion. Usually, they’ve petered out before just disappearing.  Often, some large life-force pushed the issue, but sometimes, I think it was just… done. They just didn’t want to keep telling their story, for one reason or another. Maybe it felt too personal, or too hard, or too… something.

I don’t really feel like telling my story at the moment, either. It doesn’t feel particularly interesting, on one hand. It feels like the same story everyone is living: get up; work; do the necessary things around the house so that you don’t live in squalor. On the other hand, it feels too dangerous: don’t write anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with your boss reading; don’t write anything that would infringe upon the privacy of your spouse/friends/kids; the list goes on.

The thing is, I open my RSS reader with the hope that someone, anyone, will have written a story. An actual, honest-to-goodness story, the kind we used to share all the time. Maybe it’s a story of a bad date, or the way dinner was a total flop. Maybe it’s the story of running into someone on the train that we hadn’t seen in a while. I don’t login looking for a specific story. I think I go looking for empathy, for the feeling that we get when we know someone else out there is willing to share something vulnerable with us.

I miss reading that, and I miss writing it, too. And I guess I feel like I can’t really complain about other people refusing to provide me with their stories. I have to write my own.

There’s nothing really to say beyond that. I’ve planned to write more here in the past, and it hasn’t happened. And maybe I’m just opening this up to type because I renewed all those services, and I feel like I shouldn’t be throwing my money away. (Though, let’s be real, the amount pales in comparison to what I’ve spent on unused gym memberships over the years.)

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Protected: Roads taken and not taken

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Passing the time

I realized today, as I spoke with a beloved friend, that I’ve spent the past year wishing time away. What a sad and destructive thing. I’ve just been wishing for time to pass, to survive the Now and get to the Later. I’ve waited for something worth writing about, for something worth lingering over. The rest of the time, I’ve just been looking forward to that Great Thing, whatever it is.

The Now is just fine. It isn’t the most amazing, but it is fine, and has lots of room to grow. The Now is full of potential. I just haven’t been paying that much attention.

The Now means having the luxury to take risks. The Now means the flexibility to reinvent a lot of things. The Now means paying less attention and care to things that don’t matter, and reserving my emotional resources for the things that do. And yes, the Now even means giving myself permission to really dislike the things that I really dislike.

Here’s the thing about that: I’m very aware that my problems at the moment are champagne problems. But, rather than just owning that, I’ve been quietly wishing for time to pass, so the problems will get solved and I can move on. It’s not super mature, nor ideal. Rather than fixing what I can fix and accepting that the rest is temporary, I’m just sweeping it under the rug and waiting for it to pass. Pass, as in passive, and utter nonsense, that.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about tonight. I’m pondering how to get back in the moment. I used to be an expert at living in the moment, at enjoying the beautiful, small things and fixing the bad ones. I miss that, and I’d like the moment back, before it’s passed again and I’m looking forward to the next one.

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Rose-Colored City

I’m writing this from a room overlooking “my city.” Earlier tonight, the sun went down and turned the entire skyline rose-gold, a color that I’ve never seen in any other town but makes its presence known all over San Francisco on clear nights. This place, already magical and beautiful, becomes sparkling and otherworldly in that light.

Before leaving Encinitas, I wondered if it was a mistake coming here so soon. Two days in, I’m not sure if I have an answer. I’m having the most wonderful time, and I feel like I’ve just been away on an extended trip, and now I’m home again. And whoa, danger danger, because I’m not home. I’m leaving in a few days, going back to a place that still feels unfamiliar and lonely. I hugged one of my closest and most longtime friends today and got teary-eyed. I hadn’t realized how alone I had been feeling, and suddenly it all rushed in. I couldn’t breathe for a moment, drowning in the familiar and comfortable. It shocked me back to life, that feeling of home.

But here’s the thing: it is easy to love a rose-colored city when you’re not facing the reality of daily life. When the sun is shining and there’s ice cream a short walk away, when you see most of the people you miss within the span of a few days, when there’s no work to be done or laundry piling up or bills to fret about. In these moments, a place is perfect. Then, you get on the bus with a crazy person who nearly knocks you over, and you get on another bus with a person screaming horrible, abusive things to everyone. You see yet another favorite business that has been evicted, or another tiny, teeny condo selling for nearly a million dollars.

I’ve been struggling with the blog for a while, and I think a lot of that is just that personal blogs feel much more challenging than they used to. We’re also all getting older, and for me, that has dramatically changed my feelings about privacy, among other things. But lately, I’ve also wondered how much Bright Yellow World is tied to San Francisco. This website started here. Does it even fit somewhere else? Do I fit somewhere else? Again, I don’t think I have an answer yet.

I’m glad I came to visit this rose-colored city, and I’m glad I have a few more days. I’m not sure I’ll be quite ready to go. But I also see, quite clearly, that the lens I’m looking through right now would fade with time. The crazy bus people, changing landscape, or smells of city life would push out the blush of the light on the buildings. And there’s something wonderful about staying just long enough to enjoy the romance without the housekeeping. I’ll love this town forever, and I hope I can come back regularly for all my life. And, with any luck, not living here will preserve the rosy glow. Here’s hoping.

But for now, ice cream and pink-gold glasses.

SF view

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