"Her Hardest Hue to Hold"/The Pursuit of Happiness

This post was slated to begin several days ago as a litany of the sweet and funny and heart-swelling and purely fun and interesting and just plain awesome moments that wallpapered my two weeks on the east coast. I sat, last Friday morning, in my aunt's backyard on the outskirts of Boston, swimming back through those moments and thinking of Robert Frost and his leaves subsiding to leaves, thinking how reluctant I was to fold up the tail ends of my vacation and return to San Francisco.

But then, this evening, S. and I sit on my sofa, suddenly a little heavy and teary after a long and spectacular day, and it's another poet who comes to mind.

Earlier in the day, we drive around Marin, in awe of our unbelievable summery weather (finally, finally). At the Muir Beach Overlook, we stare for a long time out at the ocean, all blue and green and glittering madly. At Stinson, I wade into the water, cold and bracing and tugging at my feet like a sweet ache; we eat ice cream and drink cold caffeine and wander languidly through town. We drive and drive, stopping to snap photos of cows, to Point Reyes. Back south in Sausalito, we sit at the edge of the water and watch the city in the distance, the city to which S. is about to bid farewell, the city in which my life will carry on. Finally, then, back to Hayes Valley for our last supper at PaulK.

And then we're home, sitting on the sofa laughing until we're choked up with the reality of our impending goodbye. We talk and talk--about heading into the unknown and unseen, about having your slate wiped clean, about not promising but hoping, about how to go on when your life isn't what you thought it might be, about believing that, ultimately, people are wired to connect and care and love. (And S., they are, they are, they are.)

S. says something about the unlikelihood of leaving behind what you've done and starting over in the name of happiness and I immediately go über-American on him. You can always start over, I say. If you take nothing else away from your year in the U.S., take this: the belief that you can begin again, the belief in the pursuit of happiness.

And when, at length, I hug him goodbye one last time and watch him walk down my front steps, out into the night, it's Frost who comes to mind first: Nothing gold can stay. (How we both know that, and far too well.)

But then it's Whitman--unabashedly hopeful, slightly goofball, occasionally naïve Whitman, master of lightheartedly beginning again. Who better to wave the flag of optimism for whatever it is that's out there?

And so, S., it's with deep affection, no promises but hope (l'espoir, l'espoir), and some Walt Whitman that America and I bid you au revoir, bonne chance, et a bientôt.
From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

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