Begin the Good Byes


And like that’s it is done.

I had my last day at the shop today.  I said good-bye to my co-workers.  I cleaned out my “desk” and I left my bicycle with the mechanics to break down and box for carrying on the plane.

This is it.

I am in the home stretch.

The last leg of this particular part of the journey–the last week of my decade in San Francisco.  And what do I do now?  Besides freak out that I don’t have income coming in?

I realized this morning, when exactly, I am not sure, but it was probably right before work, that I have always, at least for the last ten years, had a job lined up to lead me to the next place.

This time it is the place leading me to the job.

Rather like it was when I left Madison for San Francisco.  I had no job, no idea what was happening, a two month sublet in the Mission on 20th and York and about $2,000 in savings.

I was coming to San Francisco to find myself.

Self has been found, and found and found and found again.

I would like to rid myself of some of that self, that ego, that idea of who I am.

I was also coming to San Francisco to be the next great American novelist.  In fact, after two weeks of excruciatingly painful dropping of my resume everywhere and pounding the pavement, literally, combing Craigslist and shaking every god damn tree I could, I actually acquiesced to sitting down at the keyboard and starting to write.

I had an odd sort of faith.

I had a moment of what if I just took the time and dedicated it to the writing.  Maybe I would get some where.  I had paid off my sublet and I had a month and a half and about $1200 left in cash.

What if I just sat and wrote?

Two days later I was hired at Hawthorne Lane.  And the San Francisco saga began.

I did write for one day.  I did sit down and start.  I had some ideas.  I think, now looking back, I had the right idea, I just did not quite have the full monty of faith that I have now.

This time, ten years later, I have no idea where I am going to work, but I know it will come.

It always does.

I know that I will be taken care of.

I always am.

I know that I have a place to live for three months and I have $3,000 in savings.

I am also, acknowledging here and now that I am scared to move that money out of savings and into my checking account.  As though I may burn through it in the last week that I am here in the Bay area.

I do have a few desires to do a few things, so it is not completely out of the ballpark that I could blow through a bit of the money.

But unless I am dropping some big time cash to go to the World Series, I am not going to do so.  I would not sneeze at getting in, but I am hearing outrageous stories already about tickets and frankly I have cafe creme to pay for so that I may rent a spot at a cafe and write, write, write.

My friend sent me a text asking how it feels to be on sabbatical.


It has not sunk in yet.  I still think that I need to finish up my blog so I can get my ducks in a row for tomorrow and I have to…

I do not have to do anything.

I have a place on Vermont and Mariposa that I will be going to tomorrow evening.  I have a tentative lunch date with a Burning Man friend.  But other than that, I do not have a single obligation to do a single damn thing.

All that free time.

Kind of freaks me out, truth be told.

Thus, this, this ritual, habit, dedicated work, is really good for me.  I gives me parameters to shape my day and a routine to lean into that is helpful.  I have pools of time surrounding me and I do not want to go over board on spending.

Yet, I also would like to allow myself the time and the energy and the finances to do a few things.

So, tomorrow after I have lunch, I am thinking I will head into the city and see what there is to be seen.  I am thinking it would be nice to go catch a ferry ride.  Maybe wander around Sausalito or Tiburon.

Maybe go to the MOMA?

Or the Legion of Honor or the DeYoung?

On one hand I have so many things I could do.

On the other, I feel a little afraid to do any of them.  I am not going to be jobless for long and I am going to have to spend money.  I could hole up here at Graceland scrimping everywhere, or I could open my arms and my pocket book, and allow myself a nice final week in San Francisco.

It does not have to be extravagant.  But it does not have to be miserly either.

I will be taken care of.

I will be taken care of.

I will be taken care of.

I have never been dropped on my ass and I cannot believe that I am about to be now.

I have a plane ticket.  I have a bicycle.  I have my computer.  I have a notebook.

Oh!  I need to get some pens.

There, that is something I can do.  Get pens, check.


Now that I have a concrete errand, it will all fall into place.

I could go to the beach and watch the sunset.

The fear is also that I will have emotions.  That it will truly begin to seep in, that this is it.  Bye-bye, hasta la vista, au revoir, so nice to know you, got to go.

I got teary at work.  I cannot imagine what it will be like to say good-bye to other places.  I said good-bye to a few more faces today as well.

One of whom was the owner of the cafe next to the shop.  He hugged me and said, looking directly into my eyes, “you are going to make it, you are so positive and bright and upbeat, you are going to be great, don’t look back.”

This man hardly knows me.  I say good morning, I smile, I laugh, and I am seen for being a good positive person.

Thank you for seeing me.

Thank you for your words of encouragement.

I had a man walk by on the street tonight as I stood at the corner of 2900 24th Street about to cross over holler out my name, I turned and recognized a guy I helped with a bike build months ago.  He trotted over and hugged me.  I barely remembered his name, but it came out, “hi Noah!”  I hugged him right back.

We chatted and I told him today was my last day at the shop and he asked me what was going on and I said, “moving to Paris next week.”

“You are going to be amazing there!  People are really going to eat you up, awesome for you!”

I smiled, I did not know how to respond, then the lesson that I was taught and taught well comes to the fore and saves my embarrassed self, “thank you.”

Thank you.



That is what is scary about a weeks worth of time.  Not the money, oh honey, I am going to be just fine.  No.  It is this, the owning up, the opening up, the honestly acknowledging how important this decade has been to my life, my growth, my person.

How much I will miss you, how fond I have grown of you, how warmly I am welcomed and greeted and seen.

You see me and I am better for it and it is hard for me to acknowledge that you like me and even love me.

Some one told me tonight that he loved me, some one that I had a barely passing acquaintance with.  I believed him completely and I expressed it right back and it brings a lump into my throat and my heart pounds bigger in my chest and this knot of pain blossoms into awareness of how meaningful you all have been to me.

Can I just carry you all in my hip pocket?

Will you make it through customs with me?

Will my heart hold it all or will it collapse into a pile of burnt love ashes?

Broken and ravaged and burnt to a crisp of romantic nights walking by myself along the edge of a park, looking up at the San Francisco sky line, in wonderous awe that I, little old Carmen Regina Martines, from Windsor Wisconsin, lived here, in San Francisco.

I can’t make up my mind what to do because my mind does not want to acknowledge what is happening and it does not want my heart to break.

But I say, fuck it.

Break my heart.

Ravage it.

Ravish me.

Because every time my heart breaks, it breaks open bigger and I feel more and I am able to carry more and I know that I will carry this, you, all of it, with me, through the ticketing gate, down the runway, and into the wide open sky.

My heart burnt and taken by you, will rise and soar anew on stronger wings, and you will all come with me.

Every blessed one of you.

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