I was just home, home in the Bay Area. Home laughing with the people who’ve known me for decades and more. Home soaking in the heat, home barefoot on the cold tile floor, home worried about sunburning my nose because it’s April and that means its spring and in spring you’re supposed to need sunscreen.
I miss this place. I miss driving through the Caldecott, and knowing the Bay will be framed on the other side by the Golden Gate and the mountains, and the city will be winking in the distance. I miss those flowers that look like bottle brush cleaners, the red ones, growing in bushes over the freeway. I miss the word freeway. No highways in these parts. I miss these dry hills, I miss the dirt that covers the bottoms of my feet, I miss the pavement hot from the sun, I miss the friends who know me so well.
I miss these people. I miss their everyday. I miss knowing she has a stack of Sunshine magazines and that she arranges her throw pillows on her bed like they do in bedding stores, all angular and one in front of the other. I miss knowing her daughter wears purple pajamas and that her back door is always unlocked and that she makes moon flags. I miss the adult friendship we are only barely beginning, the one built on years of childhood spy games and made up languages. I miss these in-between moments, the ones no one remembers, the ones that fall between the cracks of memory, the ones that are our every day. I miss hearing about and being witness to the incremental movements that add up to her dreams.
I miss real connection with these people. Not over the phone connection, not Facebook messenger connection, not they read my blog so they know I’m panicking about something random and they text me connection. Real connection- arms wrapped around waists, laughter coming from belly, tears filling eyes, heart to heart connection. My friends are struggling, some of them. They are trying to figure out how to live, and together, we talk deeply and from our hearts, and it is real. My friends are waiting, glass of wine in hand and so many years of life to share, so many stories to tell between the two of us, like little bursts of magic each time something new is shared, laughed over, cried about, told again and anew, between the two of us. My friends are holding healing circles in their living rooms and making moon calendar journals and lighting candles to listen to each other deep into the night— and they welcome me with open arms, they listen with their hands on mine, they take me right back into the fold of the friendship that was once our everyday.
Because you know, none of us know. We don’t know how long we have to live on this earth. We could die tomorrow. I won’t buy into that saying, “live like you’ll die tomorrow,” because that’s total bullshit: if you thought you’d die tomorrow, trust me, you’d be crying at home and quaking in fear- there wouldn’t be sky diving or surfing or epic parties. Rather, I want to live like I’m alive, like I love, like I can freely and hopefully count on tomorrow. I want to live like I can count on tomorrow, tomorrow when I move home, tomorrow when I know what color your daughters pajamas are, tomorrow when I know what kind of magazines are stacked in your bathroom and tomorrow when we keep building these friendships, this community, this hopefulness that we know today. I want to live in today, to pile all the things I love into today, and I want to know that tomorrow, I can forgive todays’ mistakes, and that tomorrow, I can make tea for the friend who didn’t make today, and that tomorrow, todays’ buds will blossom, and that tomorrow, that tomorrow will be connected, intertwined with, sewn together with, hopeful with, today.
“What’s the impetus,” she asked, “to come home? Is it the babies?”
A little. But mostly, it’s fear. It’s fear of death. It’s fear of living a life too far away, of spending counted hours without sharing magic or tea with these people who can trace my particular brand of silly back a few decades, fear of not having spent precious time with precious people. Fear of death, and fear of what I am missing in the time between now and then, especially when I don’t know (and neither do you) when then is, or how many days between now and then, or how many minutes or how many decades, between now and then. So am I running scared, running home because I’m afraid? But this is how I want to spend these minutes, these days, these decades. Not like I’ll die tomorrow, but like I don’t know how much time there is between now and death, and I love this place. I love these people. I need them close.
So soon enough, I will come home. Home to this geography. Home to these dry hills. Home to California poppies. Home to where my baby girls can look up to my friends’ bigger girls. Home to diet sodas. Home to freeways. Home to the redwoods and the ocean. Home to dirty bare feet and swimming year round in outdoor pools. Home to friends who remember which mom smoked out the window of the carpool. Home to this deep knowing. Home to these people who have left footprints on my heart, and people who are calling back to me, come home, not because they want me close, but because they know I want to be close.