A ¼-20 cap screw. That fucking email that I sent. I wish I could delete it. That scar on my leg from where I ran backwards over the Rain-Bird at summer camp when I was ten, and the fact that I’m hungry even though I just ate lunch, and that now I feel better having had some almond butter and a can of sparkling water while I dig out the tools from the back of the van here in the parking lot of my storage unit in San Rafael, which is just eight miles to the north of my home city of San Francisco. Where I was born. Where I grew up, and threw papers rolled with rubber bands up three flights of stairs to hit the door just enough to let ‘em know, but not to piss ‘em off. Where I walked up hills at night to roll down them again and push out all four wheels sliding on fresh black asphalt, showing gravity another way it hadn’t even thought of.
Where I learned how to use tools, and also where I collected all the hungers and dust and anxieties and the twitching in my muscle fibers and in my nerves, all of which still afflict me now, although more gently. And where I collected all my doubts and wants and needs and my insecurities and my impatience—and also this wrench and how to tell the difference between quarter-twenty and four, or five, or six millimeter, coarse thread and fine thread, and the fact that I knew without checking that it was five mil—and how that also explains why I’m here on a Wednesday afternoon at 2:30pm, listening to the highway hum in the background and the two ladies in navy cardigans and pink masks, laughing and chatting in Spanish at the Covid test station in the next parking lot over.
This is why I’m here and not at work somewhere. Why I’m right here, and not up on the mountain flying, the mountain which is hidden behind the red-tile roof of the Westamerica Bank where the Covid tent is, now closed, perhaps forever, because we don’t need banks anymore, and we don’t need buildings for banks anymore. This is why I am not out in the bay, in the cold water, the edges of my body merging with the salt and the whorls of the tide and the birds that cry and cry. This is why I’m not doing my taxes. This is why I’m not picking my kids up from school.
There it is. My core wound, as Val Kilmer put it, same deal—I just read his book—although he did eventually have kids, and so he was healed. Well, before the cancer. For my part, I had to find another way.
This is why I’m here. This is why I’m at my storage unit, digging a box labeled “S5” out from behind the living-room chairs wrapped in plastic to find a book that will help me remember what the voice in my head meant by “love is not a promise.” And really, I just stopped here on my way, leaving yet again, heading down the road to see the woman that I met who lives somewhere else, a woman that has shown me that I can love and be loved and be love and that I’m trying to write a song here, and that I may not have to leave after all, and that the song is about leaving and not having to leave, that it’s about about having to leave and not wanting to leave, and that I’m trying to write a song here, and that the song is about home, and that that is why I’m here.