When I was relatively new to San Francisco--and, really, for several years thereafter--returning to the city after being away would always send through my body a little frisson of excitement, followed by a sense of exhaling, of being home, of feeling that all was right again.
So here's the sad thing: all of that is kind of missing now. When my plane touched down at SFO on my return trip from Boston a few weeks back, all I really felt was Oh. We're here.
In contrast, though I haven't actually been there for a few years now (is that really possible? must check my math), any glimpse or mention of Vancouver in a magazine, in a book, on Flickr, in conversation just sends my heart fluttering away in my chest. This is a very weird feeling indeed--it almost seems like the small thrill of doing something vaguely inappropriate, forbidden, or unseemly--and it's one I haven't yet quite made peace with.
But for better or worse, I think I know what it means.
I haven't fallen out of love with San Francisco--not exactly. It's still very much my home, and by this point it's so familiar, so much a part of me, that there's no way I can really define myself without it. I guess it's just that since I moved here, lo those many years ago, I've watched San Francisco change, and it's watched me change, to such an extent that we sometimes feel like we don't know each other anymore, and sometimes long too strongly, too impossibly, for what's gone.
So my sights (and my fluttering heart) are set north, to that other city of water, mountains, forests, liberals, immigrants looking to create something new for themselves. And I try to start making peace with the fact that sometime in the near-ish future, I'll have to let go, finally, of what I've loved for so long, and will get the chance to start again.