Why Am I Here?

Whenever people find out I’m in San Francisco for the entire month of July, they ask why. This is a perfectly reasonable question, one I’d ask too were the situations reversed.

However, I still haven’t exactly figured out how to answer that question.

Why am I here?

First and foremost, to write. A large chunk of my novel is set here, and I need to smell the smells and see the sights and drink in the air that is San Francisco. Inspiration. Research. Call it what you will.

But I’m vaguely embarrassed at admitting I’m attempting a novel. I mean, who does that? (Okay, fine, a lot of people I know do that. But I’ve got a lot more confidence in them than I do myself.)

And then what do I tell all these people in two years when the novel has failed to find its place in the world and I’m onto yet another probably doomed project? Sigh. Well, I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. (I love that saying. Probably a little too much.)

There are other reasons why I’m here. Ones that are harder to articulate. After a difficult first half of the year, I needed to be here. Or, I needed to not be there or there. I guess I picked the furthest spot I could from my normal life. Sometimes, I think, a little escapism is exactly what you need. And honestly it’s working. I’ve felt sanity returning from almost the first moment I set foot on the West Coast.

I needed to be away from the heat.

I needed to eat more organic food.

I needed to do yoga multiple times a week.

I needed to be in a place where I had no one to impress. I needed to be in a place where it didn’t matter who I was or how exactly I chose to express that.

I needed beauty. I needed energy. I needed eight hundred thousand people nearby.

I needed to discover Fado, a traditional Portuguese style of music with sad lyrics in a language I don’t know.

I needed space. I needed to think. I needed clarity.

I needed to know who I was out of my normal environment. I needed to know what was me and what was my place and what was other people and their expectations and how to tell the difference.

And I’m sure there are other reasons I haven’t yet discovered. They’ll come at their own time.

So this morning (afternoon back at home), I’ll listen to more Fado and I’ll drink chai tea and I’ll write and I’ll write and I’ll write and maybe the novel will be a failure, but I will say: At least it got me July.

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4 Comments

  1. Kristin
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Perfect answer to that question: “Why not?”

    You’re a professional. You have an MFA, and you teach writing, so if anyone can step away from life for a month to write a novel, it’s you. Go for it, and enjoy the break.

    (People with dull 8-5 jobs are probably jealous of that freedom. I know I am!)

  2. Posted July 20, 2011 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    You don’t need a reason for it… if anyone has a problem with that, just tell them to bugger off!

    Your apartment is completely adorable, and I immensely enjoyed spending the few short days I did with you there. I have a new-found love for San Francisco, and I love the fact that I finally got to see places you’ve been telling me about for a decade. :)

    Erin, you are a very special woman. You’ve always been one of the absolute coolest people I know, and you always will be. You just have that certain “something”… you’re intelligent, you’re fearless (even if you question your fearlessness at times), and you seem to have a knack for knowing what you need in your life when you need it (like a month-long stay in SF). Just be you, because you’ve always been amazing.

    Oh, and Fado is amazing too! :)

    • Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Aww, thanks Becki. Your words really mean a lot to me. :)

  3. Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    “Why not?” I like it!

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