Last weekend I went to Detroit, at the gracious behest of friends. They paid my way and conspired to make my brief homecoming a delightful one. Simon was turning 30, and his and Shan's newest little one was three-weeks old. Spoogy and Henny's little girl had just had her first birthday. It was nice to be amongst all my peeps.
A couple things developed out of that trip for me, though. One is that I marked it as the end of an era. The last time I went back, which was about a year ago, I was torn. It was so good to be around the friends whom I consider family: Ken, Nappy, Bill, Lockhart, Dan the Man, Lenny, and others. In a way, these are the people who I grew up with, the people with whom I cut my teeth on the way to adulthood. I went back last year and returned to SF thinking that maybe I should figure out some way to split up my time, a sort of bi-coastal living experience. Many of them have families now, and I didn't want to be left out. Eventually the draw wore off, and I sort of resigned myself to my life in California.
This time I had a much different experience. While I was just as happy to be with some of the people who mean the most to me, I almost felt like I could hear the sound of the door slamming authoritatively shut, could feel the breeze it created as it narrowly missed freeing me of my nose. Thomas Wolfe's "you can't go home again" quip finally struck home. I knew, deep down, that I don't belong in there anymore. More importantly, I knew something I haven't known in a long time, which is that I do belong here. At least for now. San Franciso is my home now. I've made it my home, I've made my life here, for better or worse, and mostly for the better I think.
I reached this knowledge almost immediately, while Suzy and Jill were driving me to their house from the airport. Poor Jill was screaming her head off; she didn't recognize me from a year ago, when she was a month old. Suzy apologized, but it wasn't that. Certainly I could understand Jilly's position in the back car seat. No, Jill's cries felt like my own birth and renewal, allowing me to see the flatness of the terrain and the washed out colors. Caveat here: I have no desire to offend any of my fellow Detroiters, least of all my friends. I am not dissing Detroit, which will always occupy the deepest place in my heart. It's just that I'd never fixated on the geography of the place in the way that I did last weekend.