Its nearly 2 am and I'm sitting up alone in some airbnb apartment in a shitty neighbourhood in SF. Work paid for a week long trip here - full of meetings that I'm mostly running, planning out a bunch of software I've been wanting to write for years. And will write soon in london if all goes well. But its late on sunday night, and I'm a teenager again being irresponsible trying to pretend my weekend won't end. Nighttime is stolen time - the clock is the only thing that moves, and if I don't make too much noise it might just stay sunday night forever.
Yesterday I was at a house party with a bunch of people I care a lot about - but there's a distance there now. I'm a time bomb. Nobody wants to get too close because I'm about to leave. Its nice, but nice like running into that school friend at the supermarket. Its great to see you, but we won't really stay in touch. A curiosity behind glass to be admired then forgotten in the morning. I wonder, is it easier for the friends I'm leaving behind? All I feel is this hollow punched in the gut kind of hollowness. I'm in mourning for whatever life I would have if I stayed - a whole different timeline I'm killing off behind me. A little future which will never be allowed to blossom.
To my friends here I'm an other-person now. I can say things outside the allowed social range like "I forgot how dirty SF is, and how many homeless people there are. They're everywhere". "Back in Australia I can walk down the street and be ignored by people on the street. I can't express how relaxing that is". I'm going to leave the US soon and stop thinking about all the people who are hungry and cold tonight, sleeping in smelly mounds of stray possessions in front of buildings to get out of the wind. Its my privilege to leave and not think about it. Its self care. Does that make me an elitist jerk? I don't know. I can't vote here anyway - I'm an outsider. Its really not up to me. Did you know that if you lined up 1000 americans, sorted by wealth, the most wealthy person in your group would own more than the poorest 800 combined? I mean, what happened to you, America? You're full of such beautiful people and such rot. Shine and decay, a fairie with smog in her lungs sleeping in a crack under a bridge. No doctor for her broken wing. I love you, but its a hurtful thing, this love.
And all that said, Sydney isn't my home anymore either. I can navigate the bus system like some half remembered dream. But its like the town at the start of zelda. Once you've gone and battled gannandorf, the city seems so small and myopic. The problems so delightfully manageable. Even with unsent words on a page I can hear the tall poppy syndrome pitchforks readying for battle in my head. I feel the need to defend and qualify any opinion I have confidence about. "Who is this wanker? He doesn't know shit!" I do know shit and piss in the street, and I can tell you australia is great. But its so ... conservative. If sydney shared a dream, I think it would be something like "Have a good work life balance, get married and relax". "Do a job, but don't work too hard. Find something you're proud of, but if you dare to actually care about it, we'll cut you until you're sorry". That voice is in my head - nobody needs to say it out loud anymore. In america it says "If you go outside, you might get shot or run over or yelled at". In australia it says "Your project will probably fail anyway; try not to care too much."
Its funny how you have to go overseas to be able to see yourself clearly. 2 years is long enough for america to be under my skin and in my blood. I can hear it in my voice and see the world through changed eyes.
In this hotel room, I feel so terribly alone. Maybe I've always been like this - maybe we all are, scrambling to get a foothold while the mud moves and sinks around us. Maybe a home is partially made, and partially grown - I don't really know. I do know that I miss it and want it, and will have it again some day. I don't regret moving here, and I don't regret leaving - but even when they're due, breakups are never fun.
And I will miss you San Francisco. All your passion and stench and creativity. Your furious dedication to dumb iphone apps and standing in line for everything. I'm looking forward to leaving, but I'm also thankful for the small part of you that I will always carry with me. Making me a little weird in any crowd.
3:30 am. I wonder what London will be like. I guess there's no point delaying tomorrow any longer.