Leaving the Golden Gate

Funny how what comes around goes around. In July of 2017, I knew I would be moving back to Chicago, and I was feeling a bit sad as Taylor & I had built a good life in the Bay Area. I laughed about it with him thinking that we thought the same thoughts when we left Chicago a few years prior on the way to the Bay. We were feeling sad too. It wasn’t sadness as much as it was nostalgia. Taylor and I had built memories in both.

Originally written 21 July 2017

Only moments before, I was but a four-wheeled ant fleeing Paul Bunyan’s boot, driving along the Golden Gate Bridge, regal from all angles. Now I stand tall, smiling and overlooking that same bridge, the same spot from which I stood over four years ago when I first moved here. At that moment of my life, I had spent twenty years in Chicago. And while I never was a tourist in the City of Big Shoulders, I wowed I would be in the Bay Area. So I did. For four years, I spent my time exploring, bookended by employment at two great companies, in the middle a sabbatical that had me rediscovering myself, this city, this state, this country and this world. 

I’m commemorating those thoughts on this very day, a Friday evening after work where I split the week between Chicago and San Francisco, two cities that will always be my homes, two cities that have enviably fought for my heart, neither one having yet to gain an edge. I spent the previous weekend with family and friends. I spent the week at work. I spend this weekend alone with my dog and my thoughts. 

The sun sets behind me, a bright ball of golden yellow. The Headlands provide the perfect backdrop to the beauty of the Bay. The sheer beauty of this city, and the vantage point from these spots surrounding the bridge, never cease to amaze me, for which I am constantly thankful. Despite that, it’s cold at the moment, the brisk San Francisco winds bellow, each howl cutting through my freshly shaved, bald scalp, foretelling of what’s yet to come. Soon in Chicago, winter’s coming.

There are people everywhere, tourists taking pictures even more than me, a local for now, to join their rank in just six weeks. It’s July. I’m a bit sad. I’ve always had a hard time letting go, while concurrently I’ve always had an easy time for what’s to come, all the while enjoying the moment. Perhaps that’s what others feel too, though at the moment, though I am surrounded by a great many others, I am more concerned with only me. I’m going to miss this. 

I’m going to miss crossing the bridge most days of the week. The Golden Gate has become my center, where just on a dime coming back from the office, I’ll decide to stop at a spot to sit and stare. I’m going to miss the different vista points where I could park my car, walk outside and just sit, like I am doing right now. I’m going to miss Vista Point off 101N just before Alexander Avenue, Battery Spencer, Golden Gate View Point, Hawk Hill at the very top, and Point Cavallo at the very bottom, all on the Sausalito side of the bridge. I’m going to miss Crissy Field, Fort Point, and the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, all on the San Francisco side.

I’m going to miss the land around Lands End. Driving along Lincoln Hwy and El Camino Del Mar culminates at the parking lot near the Cliff House. Whether it’s a hike along the Coastal Trail, picking a spot near Sutro Baths to paint, the cliff along Point Lobos, or just staring at Seals Rock and into the Pacific Ocean, my head turning to fly along with the pelicans, it could be the most beautiful spot in the world, and most certainly is in any major metropolitan city.

I’m going to miss wine country. Living in Marin has given me so many opportunities to visit Sonoma and Napa, ultimately becoming a member at Ram’s Gate and Silverado. Most visits from friends have culminated with a trip to wine country. I’ve grown accustomed to the pinots, cabs, syrahs, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs up there — at Alpha Omega, Trefethen, Plumpjack, Stags Leap, Artesa, Cline, and many more. The greens during the summer and the oranges & reds during autumn, fill my memory banks.

I’m going to miss living two minutes walking distance from the entrance to a trailhead leading Taylor and I into the Marin Headlands. I’m going to miss that access into nature, more than I could possibly put into words. I’m going to miss the trails. I’m going to miss the greens. I’m going to miss the flowers. I’m going to miss the trees. I’m going to miss Taylor hanging out with other dogs, either alone or in packs with their owners or walkers. I’m going to miss Fernwood Cemetery, a staple along our hikes through the Headlands. 

I’m going to miss my balcony, with the most gorgeous view of any place I’ve ever lived, gazing longingly over Richardson Bay. I’m going to miss the sunrises and sunsets as the moon rises. I’m going to most definitely miss the full moon rise behind the hills of Belvedere. I’m going to miss the pinks and lavenders each evening; and the yellows, oranges and reds each morning. I have not even scratched the surface of everything I’ll miss. And yet, I’m excited to move to Chicago.

It wasn’t long before someone asked for my parking space, after which I descended the hill, and soon found myself on Bridgeway Ave, the street where it all began ten years ago tomorrow when I was sitting on a bench, staring at Angel Island and Alcatraz, overlooking the Bay after my cousin’s wedding promising myself that someday I’d live here. I’ve been coming to this spot quite a bit of late, again knowing the end is near. This page is turning; this chapter is nigh. The skies are pink and lavender now, the prettiest of colours, my favourites dotting the Bay Area heavens. With Angel Island once again to my left, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and the city once again before me and the houses dotting the hills of Sausalito to my right and behind me, I don’t want to leave.

My heart never will.

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