I’d lived in Berkeley for years. Even though I am now only on the other side of the Bay Bridge, my latest endeavor comes with more difficulties than I’d expected – the least of which is the seeming impossibility of getting a full-time writing job. By moving to the city, not only am I embarking on a second career, but a second life.
The problem with starting a new life is I can neither truly nor completely escape the first. Nothing I do now is independent of the past – not an exploration of the new Target store on Mission, not a brisk walk down Market Street, not even a visit to Peet’s. When the simplest act of habit is accompanied by waves upon waves of memories, how does one continue?
And the reason the memories make moving on difficult is they were so good. Grocery-shopping – taking the time to pick the perfect basket of strawberries, sifting through a bushel of cherries, deciding exactly which cut of pork I was interested in preparing for dinner – was joyful. Swiffer-ing the floors was a thing of pride. Hiking with the dog in the park, listening to the trees groan against the wind, discovering small snakes and birds hiding in the brush, taking in the view of the bay from the top of the hill, followed by a masterful preparation of a satisfying meal – these simple joys were the stuff of my former life.
Also in my former life, San Francisco meant beautiful dinners and nights at the ballet, immaculate window displays of the upscale boutiques, lazy strolls that criss-cross this amazing city past quirky shops and noisy street corners, adorable dogs parked in front of cafes. It can still mean the same, but it would not be the same.
In my present life, everything I love about this city is a stone’s throw away. I peer at rows of cupcakes, just like I used to, and know that whichever one I choose would not cross the bridge, but follow me into my tiny apartment with the smelly hallway. And that knowledge makes me lose my appetite.
Moving on is so difficult because everything I do reminds me of my first life – I am no longer there and there is no way to go back.
(See, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.)