I'm back. Back in the city that feels most like home. It feels good to be here. I can appreciate what my home has to offer, and see where it might need a few tweaks. Something similar to the way I feel more generally about my life.
My last few days in the US were spent first in New York and then San Francisco – both now familiar climbs. My stay in New York was pretty much entirely confined to Brooklyn where Stacey, Martin (Bandguy) and their little boys Nolan and Cass live. No bad thing as I could happily roam the streets of Brooklyn in the shadows of the towers of Manhattan. My stay here only overlapped with Bandguy on the morning of my arrival and the evening of my departure; our time together was therefore restricted to a catch up on my arrival and a whisky session on the night of my departure. Judging by the nick of myself and Bandguy on my departure that was probably enough to be getting on with. This left time to spend in the company of Stacey and the kids who are wonderful to a last. And in between interviews my days seemed action packed between visits to the park, my friend's sunglass shop (Monocle Order), a rather lovely Turkish restaurant for eggs royale (I think that's the one with Salmon?), and a dinner in with Stacey, her friend and neighbour Vanessa and a whole bunch of kids accompanied by an unusual band who played gypsyesque jazz and featured a lady playing violin who wore a black lace cover over her face. Between all of this Stacey was holding down work and looking after two little children! I'm not sure how she does it but it certainly was an object lesson in how to manage your time effectively while maintaining an air of grace.
My interviews in New York were for the first time with people involved with different finance coops and funding-raising. An area where I could be considered to have some expertise and experience. Better yet the second of these meetings was the first time in all of the interviews and visits I've conducted to date that my introduction did not bring a look of bewilderment, consternation or outright panic when I divulge my past in banking. Instead I found myself sitting across the table looking at someone who walked away from the world of high finance and into the world of cooperatives! Better yet he loved my project and really felt it was worthwhile. I think I must have given up on meeting someone in the course of this project who I wouldn't have to carefully explain my story to. Maybe I'd never expected it? Regardless I know the meeting's timing was perfect. I know this because if I'm coming back from this trip with any one overriding thing it is a sense of self-belief, I really do feel like I'm a writer now, but more than that I feel as though the book I'm writing is going to be meaningful, at least to someone.
This recent arrival is I suppose perfectly understandable when the question that needed answering was: whether or not I'm capable of writing a book? And at that one which is going to be coherent and useful to someone? To my delight somewhere towards the end of this trip the answer changed from “I dunno” or “I guess” to “YES”. It really has sneaked up and engulfed me in its warm glow and had I not yet been an inhabitant of this newly found confidence I don't think the meeting would have felt like the final step of affirmation. Instead I'd probably still be feeling that slightly fraudulent vibe that stuck around in the early days of this venture, now lying cast off down the road that's led me here.
I think this blog post has now strayed into some pretty serious reflection and its probably incumbent upon me to shift it back to its more familiar territory. Still I guess a little reflection isn't a bad thing at the end of a journey? Leaving New York a day later than planned thanks to a missed flight caused by the long overrunning interview (as you'll know from reading above this was undoubtedly a price worth paying) San Francisco was my last taste of the USA for a while, and bathed in that glorious California sun I could think of no better. Once again my time was short and hinged upon a couple of interviews I'd been chasing for a while and missing the flight made everything a little more precarious. But any effort to maintain some semblance of urgency went straight out of the window as soon as I stepped off the plane and felt the pace of life slow. The sun no longer struggling to make its presence felt and the frantic pace of New York chatter slowed to the gentle Californian drawl.
I spent my first night back in town at the hostel where I'd spent most of my time back in September and took the opportunity to catch up with a few of the friends who were still here and their tales of those who'd moved on. Happily the general sentiment was positive, though I think it would take something pretty drastic to through many of them off their serene simplicity. My last port of call for the trip was Berkeley to stay with Oddy and Vanessa who I met first at Burning Man. They recently moved into a home in Berkeley on the other side of the Bay to San Francisco and home of the famous university. They were lovely as ever and made sure I felt looked after, their warmth and sense of fun is pretty infectious and I really can't imagine a better pair for parenthood (they are about to get in the family way for the first time). Aside from suggesting some outlandish baby names and enjoying a curry in Downtown Berkeley I didn't have all that much time to spend with them between interviews and a mission to retrieve a “lost” jacket. It all worked out well in any event as I was happy to leave them some time Oddy having just returned from a long trip to Australia I was pleased that I wouldn't be imposing for too long given the circumstances. Besides which Oddy had sent me a brief, succinct email a little while ago that said something like follows “sorry we didn't have time to properly catch up. I have a feeling out paths might not cross for a while but I know they will continue to do so for many years to come”. Its a sentiment I share and look forward to fulfilling, not just with Oddy but all of the great friends new and old I've spent time with on this trip.