This weekend I began reading some “scholarly” essays in casual pursuit of following the curriculum of a college-level anthropology class on gender and sex. Finishing the first reading, an essay from a 1970s issue of Feminist Studies, I felt my brain struggling to keep up with a style and complexity of writing that I’m no longer familiar with. As compared to almost any other form of casual reading—non-fiction, fiction, newspapers, blogs, you name it—academic writing is difficult.
I spent the night in Oakland at a cooking class taught by Phil Gelb. Five of us cozied up in his kitchen and made food-magic happen. Pumpkin gnocchi in a walnut sage cream sauce, roasted beets, simple vegetable soup, and deep-fried tempeh cutlets cooked in marsala wine. Phil set out homemade cashew ricotta cheese—divine— and improv jazz wafted about his compact urban loft.
For the past fifty days, I’ve been writing at night. I am often not functional in the morning, and the brief time I do claim in the early hours often goes toward reading. And so I’ve found myself writing these entries late, frequently from my bed, as I struggle to keep my eyes open for just one more sentence. And while some nights I manage to write something I feel is of worth, more and more the past several weeks I’ve noticed a lack of inspiration when I need it most.
I was reminded tonight that I have lived in San Francisco for three years. Years, it feels, that have escaped me as does a word on the tip of your tongue: you can vaguely describe the word, and you can remember how it feels to say the word, even some times that you have used the word, but the fuller meaning is lost until you recall the specific term and its context. It seems that it is easy to quantify a life (i.e. “I have been here three years”), but much harder to qualify it. How do you explain a year? How did you change in 2015? A full 365 days passed and how many do you remember? We tend to remember the sad moments and some of the happier ones, but the mundane living is lost to time.
Wake up in Napa. There is a cat on your lap. The cat purrs in time to the falling rain. Memories of the previous night leak slowly back in; wine in the afternoon, music at dusk, conversation all night. First an upscale party, later an artists’ commune. You arrived late and were greeted with hugs and hospitality. You kept your eyes open as long as possible and crashed after midnight. Slept through the night on a sofa fabricated in heaven. Woke to showers and a gray winter sky. Slipped out early to find food and drove lazily back to the city. Found more friends and spent another night drenched in laughter. Stories over burritos. Kept your face to the pavement, walking in the rain, bar to bar. Got home late and collapsed on your bed. You felt blessed in the purest of senses that humans are kind and for when friendship comes easy. Happiness, it is said, is best when shared.