The prodigal son reluctantly returns

I went and sat on the beach Saturday for a few hours; watching the waves roll in and the white foam crash against the sand. It was cold and gray; the fog hovered over everything as far as the eye could see. The weather kept most of the people away. Only me, a few small Asian families, and elderly lesbian couples braved the wind. I was sitting there watching the tide, thinking about my life and all the things I would miss about San Francisco. I was thinking in particular that I should have had more days like this. Then I began to notice these dark triangular objects popping up through the waves just off shore. At first I thought they were just water, and then I saw what might have been either a dolphin or a shark, leap out of the water. Not completely mind you, just enough to put a little air between its belly and the waves. I had never really seen a dolphin or a shark in its natural habitat. Well at least not this close up. I saw a few on the ferry on my way back from Alcatraz last Thanksgiving after I went to a Native American prayer circle.

Still it was amazing and beautiful; I soon caught sight of a few more of them. I watched them for a bit jumping in and out of the sea, until they disappeared out of sight, too far off for me to be sure it was them I was seeing or just water like I had initially assumed. After what felt like an hour but was probably closer to twenty minutes; I noticed I was crying. The fog when you’re in it is like a light mist, so my face was already wet. But there were actual tears rolling down my cheeks as well. I didn’t think I was sad enough to cry, but I guess I was wrong. I knew I was grieving the loss of my love and my home, yet when you bottle up your emotions for as long as I have sometimes the dam breaks in the weirdest, most unexpected moments. I had brought some whiskey with me, so I took a swig, hoping it would push the tears back down inside where they belong. After the first taste I decided getting drunk alone on the beach and crying to myself wasn’t a good look. Plus I hadn’t eaten anything except for a cold chicken leg that I fried up last night. I was getting hungry and just as cold as that chicken leg too, so I decided to head back to the bus stop. I also didn’t want my bus transfer to run out either and have to pay another two bucks to get back home.

At the bus stop there were these five pretty blonde German girls. Most likely out of fear, since I was crawling up from a trail (that barely existed) between two trees, with my hood pulled up over my head. I sat down on a short fence post and lit up a smoke. They turned away quickly as if disgusted by my bad habit. Once on the #29 I settled into the back of the bus. There was no one else on the bus but me and the five German girls, I could hear their strange language chattering loudly. They were young (very young), and I wondered to myself “what it must be like to travel the world with your friends at that age”? No parental supervision, just you and your pals. I wished I could have taken my group of friends with me these last ten years. I thought about all the fun we would have had tearing up the country from coast to coast.

Then I thought about all that I had done. A year and three months in NY, followed by nearly four years in Atlanta, yet another year and three months (what is with me and that time limit) in St. Louis, a year in Oakland, then finally the last two and half years in SF. Not bad, more than I thought back at the turn of the century when I was sitting in a federal prison in Ohio. At that point I had never been further west. I have seen the country now. Well most of it. I still haven’t seen Seattle or Texas, I would still like to visit Mt. Rushmore and Yosemite too. All in all though, I think I have done pretty good. If I was going to have to go home , I shouldn’t be too ashamed.Of course I will feel some shame, I will fill as though I failed to accomplish very much in all that time. There was still time left I thought to myself as I watched the little German girls get off the bus. California hasn’t fallen off the Earth just yet. I could still come back someday. Atlanta doesn’t have to be the end of the line, and who knows I could make something happen down there; back where I know people, where I have family and friends. I was wondering when (if ever) I was going to reconnect with my fam. My cousin Channon has stopped calling me because I failed to contact anyone when I was in Atlanta a few weeks ago scoping out the lay of the land. I was too busy trying not to melt. San Francisco weather has spoiled me. The prodigal son reluctantly returns home this week. We’ll see how it goes.


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