Leaving Neverland

Reflecting on life in the Bay Area
Reflecting on life in Neverland

One month ago I crammed my Subaru to the rafters and Dos Gatos Locos and I left “Neverland”.

(Aside: I frequently refer to the Bay Area—and San Francisco in particular—as Neverland, because it always has been a place that allowed for play and experimentation, no matter what your age or background. Up until a few years ago the “Neverland” aspect of life in the Bay Area was benign: There was a sort of “take a penny, leave a penny” community spirit. Neverland started to become malignant a couple of decades ago, as dot-com money came in and dispassionately began wiping out communities and the security that comes with community, and worsened considerably over the last ten years.)

So anyway, I started to write about leaving Neverland about a year ago.

Check that.

I’m pretty sure that I began writing about this four or five years ago. Because I knew then that I had stayed at that party for too long, but I was so emotionally paralyzed that I couldn’t even think of moving. Hell, the thought of even going to the grocery store could send me into a full-on stress meltdown.

But even a year ago, when I tried again to write about leaving the Bay Area, I just…couldn’t. And it was frustrating because I had visions of this E-P-I-C journal/blog. But it just wasn’t happening.

Sans the epic-inspirational-internet-sensation journal, I started making my way across the country. The first three days of the trip provided plenty of time for me to bounce around against all of the surfaces of my mind, while I drove. Somewhere between Amarillo, TX and the Oklahoma border, I realized that the reason why I couldn’t write about the process of “conscious uncoupling” from the Bay Area is because I need distance.

Miles and time.

So now I’m good on the miles part, but the time? Hrmmmmm…

I’ve made it a priority of my yoga and meditation practice to leave enough space to process the experience of living in the Bay Area, with the understanding that this is a big job. I was there for more than 24 years: the longest that I’ve lived anywhere in my life.

It was never easy, especially since I don’t come with the backing of a trust fund or a six-figure tech job. I did make a life there, though. I began collecting those pieces of myself that I had dropped, like breadcrumbs, throughout my childhood and young adulthood and I started to form MY life. But the stress of trying to keep a roof over my head in one of the most expensive housing markets in the world eventually suffocated the fire I had built. All of those pieces were still there, only now they were buried under layer upon layer of protective anger, which grew worse over the last several years in the Bay Area.

Around the time of the Great Recession about a decade ago, the atmosphere in the Bay Area thickened with a hostile stench, like sewer gas in San Francisco. Just like there are corners of San Francisco that don’t smell like sewer gas, there are pockets of human kindness (and I certainly tried my best to keep that part of myself in the light). But it’s hard to feel anything other than anger towards an area when every day I saw working people who were homeless (the lucky ones at least had a car they could sleep in), in a city that criminalized being broke. A place so malignant with a sense of entitlement that tech bros wrote open letters to the mayor bitching about homeless people.

So, yeah. Safe to say these first weeks away from the Bay Area will be spent peeling away more of those layers of anger. Those layers will go in one stack. There will be other stacks: for the great friends I made there, the fun times, the heartaches, the art, the education.

All of it was necessary for me to get here.

And as I shed the layers that stifled me, those important pieces of myself will breathe again, and that oxygen will fuel the fire from which my creativity and brilliance will rise.

To be continued…

Strange Limbo

I am at the point in my planned relocation to North Carolina where I’m marking my remaining time in the San Francisco Bay Area in weeks, even days.

Today I sent my property manager notification of my intended departure date (we had talked previously about my plan to move, so it will not be a surprise). As I had given notice at my job nearly two months ago, with this notification I have completely let go of this life in the Bay Area.

Before I sent my notice to my property manager today, I was thinking about it and, quite unsurprisingly, felt some jitters in my gut. After all, I’m letting go of “security”. It’s kind of daunting until I realized that none of this belongs to me anymore.

As I wrote the letter I noticed that those jitters had gone away and I wondered if they would reappear as I got closer to hitting “Send”.

I sent the notice hours ago: still no jitters.

I find myself in a strange limbo where I’ve released the bar I’ve held onto for nearly a quarter of a century—the bar that is no longer mine—so that I can reach for the next bar that the Universe is sending for me.

I am not afraid.

Terrible Beauty 

Right now, there are fires raging through Napa and Sonoma counties, causing evacuations and destroying homes. There was also a fire in the North Berkeley hills overnight, but no report of property loss. Those of us near the bay are feeling the effects of the thick smoke in the air. It makes for a pretty sunrise, but it is a terrible beauty. 

My thoughts are with the folks in the path of these horrible fires. 

Stuff I Saw Recently: Sunrise Edition

“…as the seasons roll on by.”

Now that we’re half way through summer, the days are getting shorter and I’m starting to see the sunrise again each morning, as I wait for the ferry.

Last Wednesday there was a crazy reflection of the rising sun off of some of the buildings in San Francisco. The rose-gold was stunning, though neither my phone camera nor this point-and-shoot could do it the proper justice.

The August 2, 2017 sunrise is reflecting off of the buildings in San Francisco.

(Bonus appearance by @KarlTheFog, stretching an arm across the skyline.)

The following morning, I caught the sun rising up over the Oakland Hills. I’m not sure what tall sail ship they’re working on next door (I don’t think it’s the Balclutha, as I’ve heard it is still in its usual spot over by Fishermen’s Wharf), but I liked the look of it (and my beloved AT-AT cranes) against the sunrise.

sunrise over the east bay hills
The sun rises over the Oakland Hills on Thursday, August 3, 2017. Taken from the ferry terminal in Alameda, California.

Life in Mayberry By The Bay: Holidays Edition

One of the charms of living in Alameda is that folks here like to decorate for the holidays. Not just Christmas, though most every street will have at least one befestivated house (and there is Christmas Tree Lane). Alamedans also like to go all out for Halloween, and some households will just do a mash-up of the two holidays.

halloween skeletons decorated for christmas

Alameda was a Navy Town for a very long time, which makes Independence Day rather a big deal*. The town turns red white and blue, and we boast one of the largest and longest parades in the United States. Uncle Sam, flags, and bunting abound.

large flag draped across a porch
Uncle Sam decoration for Independence Day
red white and blue bunting on a white fence

*I am informed by the cats that Independence Day is exceedingly loud and, in their words, “BOOMY” and it is not a preferred holiday for the pets. Please keep your critters in a safe, peaceful place tonight.

On Her 80th Birthday, A Tribute To The Golden Gate Bridge

For most of us, it is nearly impossible to envision the Golden Gate–that area of the San Francisco Bay where it joins up with the Pacific Ocean–without the majestic presence of the Golden Gate Bridge (the bridge took her name from the location, not the other way around). Still, it just seems like she was always meant to be in that very spot, and just bided her time until humans evolved enough to be able to help her rise.

In my nearly quarter century of living in the Bay Area, I’ve crossed the bridge on foot only a few times, but every trip has left me wondering why I don’t make that trek more often.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Abstract Gate

By crossing the bridge slowly on foot, instead of racing across by car, my senses get to savor much of what I love here: the delicious brine of the air with an occasional hint of eucalyptus, the way seasons seem to change hourly, watching all kinds of sea and shore life from porpoises to pelicans, hearing dozens of different languages spoken as I pass fellow travelers, observing the busy ship and ferry traffic. And then there is the absolute wonder of the structure itself: the intricate patterns of the rivets, and how it feels alive, when I feel the vibrations through the cables.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Tower

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Lady! May you watch over the San Francisco Bay for many many more years to come.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Golden Gate from Angel Island

A Day Without A Woman

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; A Woman's Place Is In The Resistance

Today is International Women’s Day, a day on which the organizers of the Women’s March called for a strike. I elected to withhold our labor today. Instead, I attended rallies at San Francisco City Hall and at Justin Herman Plaza. It was beautiful to be in such great energy.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; International Women's Day Rally, San Francisco (6)

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Strong Women Scare Weak Men

We live in a time where straight white men who have too much societal power routinely dehumanize people of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, and women. We have to come together to fight to have our humanity recognized.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Sign O' The Times

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Vladnald

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; There's a MADMAN

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Pup Sporting a Pussy Hat

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Stay Nasty

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; For ALL Sisters

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Quality Man

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Hands Off

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; An Immigrant Woman

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Pedicabs Against Patriarchy