The naming and the knowing

Between dim sum tomorrow afternoon and my flight home on Thursday, I have no plans. No real plans, anyway, the kind with dates and times and directions. I have a list - a list of places I think I might enjoy seeing, and a guidebook that seems to have solid recommendations so far.

I know I'd like to have a drink with Matthew's brother Daniel, since we haven't seen each other since we were teenagers, and I'm curious to see how much we think we've changed.

I know that I'd like to see Crutcher and Theresa, but I don't know if our schedules will coincide.

I know that I grabbed a page of clear labels and printed out the addresses of every friend I wanted to send a postcard to (except Noah, whose new mailing address I don't have, hint hint) but I don't know where I'll buy the cards. I know that once, I sent many of these same people postcards that were written while my toes were digging into the salty, warm sands of the Gulf of Mexico; a romantic part of me imagines that I will find someplace lovely, within sight of that bay bridge I've always wanted to see, and write those postcards. Afterwards, perhaps taking a picture to post, something to bring home later to say, "These filled my eyes while I thought of you and wrote to you."

The realist is packing my warm, cozy green hoodie (a gift I'll talk about later) because it might be too chilly to write. (Albeit not as chilly as the postcards I wrote from Colorado the night it dropped to -3F outside.)

I feel obligated, really, to make the most of this unexpected trip; to make the most of a stranger's kindness that is sending me across this vast countryside to be with my spouse, whose voice sounds tired on the phone when we get a chance to talk at night.

I have not grocery shopped in nearly three weeks. We are out of vegetables, out of every perishable except milk; tonight I borrowed two pieces of bread from Misty so that I could have a sandwich tomorrow without needing to buy a loaf of bread that would only spoil while I am gone.

I sewed to ease my nervousness, sewed with the stereo playing loudly and Tenzing nestled in my lap. Tonight I looked up post offices and store locations, typing them carefully into a text window for printing and putting in my backpack.

There are names. Names I don't know, like Embarcadero and Millbrae and Van Ness and Mission. I'll put on my best sweater and shoes before I go shopping in Nob Hill, my 'comfortable' shirt before shopping in Castro.

I will get on a plane even though I don't really care for flying, and reassure myself that it's just a plane and knit through the ascent. Somewhere between Huntsville, Houston, and that faraway San Francisco I'll eat the sandwich I made tonight, and land ready for dim sum and a spouse I haven't seen in a while.

Edmund hasn't been sure what's been different for the past two weeks. Tenzing has known, but not known what to do about it to make it better (except yowl a lot and sleep tucked next to me).

Me, I know. I get up at 4:15 a.m., catch my 6:30 a.m. flight, and barrel off of that Continental flight at something near a full run, because somewhere near an escalator or baggage claim is someone I've missed so much in the past two weeks that it's been an actual, physical ache.

For now, it's time to close this laptop, tuck my notebook and my reading material into my backpack, and get a shower. You cannot know a city just by planning to visit it. The naming of places comes first. Only by being there will there be knowing.

It's time to find out the differences between the two.


I'm glad you'll be able to spend time with Jeff while he's working - bet he's missed you as much as you've missed him!