This’ll be the first year since we met that I haven’t seen you. The summer after Spain it was the few months we spent in and around the Bay Area, then moving you out to Denver, then stopping to see you in Denver while moving me back to Texas. The year after that, it was your first conference in DC and Labor Day weekend in Denver. Another year and another conference when you helped me buy a couch off Craigslist and introduced me to Grace & Frankie. Last year, your last conference and Christina’s wedding.
I always forget how long I’ve known you. You’ve been such a subtle constant in my life for the last five years that I feel like I’ve known you longer, like we met in Montana or in Texas. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t think we were ever formally introduced for all that we were both living in Sevilla at the same time, taking Spanish classes at the same instituto, were both at that going away botellon on the Guadalquivir. I think I just showed up at your apartment in Almeria with a suitcase after my residency appointment and said, “Kellie gave me this address.”
I think you’ve seen me in more places than most: Spain and various locales around Europe, San Francisco, Denver at least half a dozen times, all three of my homes in D.C. That time in San Francisco is such a blur; I sometimes forget I ever even lived there. I was having dinner with a friend the other night and the talk turned to earthquakes. “I’ve been in an earthquake,” I said. We were both a little surprised by that fact; her because I’d never mentioned it and me because I’d almost completely forgotten it ever happened. It’s not like it wasn’t a memorable story–who forgets the time they got locked out of their house in their underwear during a natural disaster? It certainly sounds like something I’d do–but it seems so distant.
San Francisco has been on my mind a bit lately. Did you know that there’s surfing in San Francisco? I just finished reading Barbarian Days about a month ago. A friend recommended it to me when I mentioned I wanted to try surfing when down in Costa Rica. Months after coming home from that trip I finally got around to reading it.
I was a little apprehensive about reading it because sometimes I dream about quitting everything and disappearing somewhere tropical and learning to surf and I was afraid this book was going to be a How To Guide for Becoming a Bum. But, at least in my interpretation, even when he’s surfing glassy waves in Fiji, he doesn’t seem entirely satisfied. He’s been everywhere and he can’t get enough. That shouldn’t be reassuring but it is. Despite several years spent wandering the globe, he eventually grows up enough to marry and have a kid and find a purpose and write some books and more or less make sense, or at least find some poetry, in all of it.
Do you ever regret not doing a second year in Spain? Sometimes I think about how I almost moved to Bordeaux. Despite all of the ups and downs–mostly downs–that came in that year after Spain, I don’t regret choosing not to go but I am curious how different things would be if I had.
Maybe I’ll find you on New Year’s Eve, wherever you land up celebrating, just to keep our tradition going.
Un mil besos,