They say you can't go home again. Now I understand why. Mostly.
In March of this year, I was on a plane from SF to my new home of Austin, Texas, and as the plane rose above the meeting of sea and land that I had called home for most of my life, memories of what was and imaginings of what would be mingled with hope and fear, and I could not do much more than mindlessly flip through a magazine after magazine. The landing was hard: little was as I'd hoped, much was as I'd feared, much, much more I had not even considered.
So when I recently visited to San Francisco I was looking more for familiarity than anything else, to feel at home, to feel at ease and oriented, to have the sea on one side and land on the other. But it was not to be. Yes, SF felt familiar, of course it did, I've lived in the area most of my life, but I would not say it was as familiar as I'd hoped. Maybe the problem was just that I knew I would not be staying for very long and so I walked around guarded and did not let myself really feel what I felt, I don't know. Even when I was right there, San Francisco felt distant.
But there was one place I did settle into as though I had never left: Hyde Street Studio C. The neighborhood around it was no richer or poorer than before, the stores were all same, the trash and smells. I entered Hyde Street and the scent of Mary Jane greeted me as it always had, as if she had just walked by a few moments before. Jaimeson Durr was already there at the mixing board, we talked for a bit and away we went. Later on, my friend Tom Donald stopped by to say hello and we put him to work on some cowbell overdubs, I even sang a bit of backing vocals. Then Elliot Randall walked in and we cued up Wishing Ground, a song too-long-in-progress. I even managed a Starbucks run. And before I knew it, the time had come for me to go.
Over the next several days nothing felt as familiar as Hyde Street had. There were moments -- a gust of sea air, some low grey skies, the whipping wires and whining of electric buses -- but they were not enough to bring back all that had been. Something has been lost. Could I find it again? Sure, I think I could. But should I try? Should I enter the near future trying to find the past? No, I have to go forward and just accept that I am out of my old element and not yet quite into my new, if Austin is indeed it. But I can take comfort in knowing that even if I can't go back home again, I can at least go back to Hyde Street. For now.