Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nothing Gold Can Stay

On the very top of Bernal Hill I found myself thinking, isn't there a photo of me in this very same spot from just over 5 years ago? I wasn't quite sure of the direction I had been facing, but I remembered the day. We had taken kites up to the top of the hill and let the wind whip them up into the air.  They got all tangled now and then, which led to a game called Kite Fights in which you would try to intentionally take down your pal's kite. I sat on the hill and watched the boys play. I wonder if I knew then that I would be leaving. Sometimes you know things before you say them to yourself, and in certain moments--particularly the sweetest ones--you can feel a golden glow of nostalgia, a pang of loss for what you are currently experiencing. Or as Ponyboy would say, nothing gold can stay.

And so, on this recent trip to San Francisco, I took a photo of myself in that spot. Everything was different, and yet everything was the same. I had a chill in my bones. You'd think five years in New York would have toughened me up, but I just couldn't get warm on this trip. I had forgotten how San Francisco homes lack those powerful radiators that dry us out at night in Brooklyn. I was always cold in San Francisco, but I got used to glorious years of frozen toes and summerless summers. It was ironic, I thought, that I was wearing a gray turtleneck and a black pea coat, my non-silly sunglasses--a New Yorker costume on a grassy green hill. Five years ago, I donned a cruddy red zip-up jacket from an ex-boyfriend and my Elton John sunglasses. My reddish hair was greasy and it whipped around my head. I had not yet discovered my anti-acne/anti-aging facial cleanser (that was in 2008), but the lipgloss has stayed the same (Burt's Bees in Raisin).

It rained in the morning. My friend Megan is pregnant and she was missing the taste of beer--compounded, I bet, by my presence in her kitchen--and so we decided to take a walk. These San Francisco walks were the very beginning of our friendship, up 20th Street to Sutro Tower (when the fog rolls in, the top of the tower looks like a ship lost in the ocean), or, as always, up to the top of Bernal. And with our feet marching forward, slightly out of breath, we talked and talked--the kind of talk that is about nothing specific, but feels greatly important. I guess you could call it dreaming. But on this chilly day, five years later, with everything different but everything the same, there was a great rainbow that spanned the entire city, starting at Coit Tower and stretching over into the Bay. It was almost cliche, and it was definitely indulgent--like dozens of red roses on Valentines Day--and yet I loved that nature had given us this most obvious of gifts. And there I was, once again, already mourning the moment that I was in, for the rainbow clearly couldn't last and I would soon be going back to New York, where we have no grassy green hills to speak of. But perhaps one day I will learn that a life is made up of many happy afternoons--none of which are to be mourned, and none of which can ever be repeated--and that this is okay. (After all, nothing gold can stay.)


  1. I have to ask, what is your anti-acne/anti-aging facial cleanser?? I'm always looking for a good product.

  2. Hi LT! Ha ha...I knew people were going to want to know. It's Neutrogena's anti-wrinkle/anti-blemish...seriously was a life-changing discovery. (And I believe it's the same brand that Liz Lemon of 30 Rock claims to use, which makes me sort of proud.)

  3. I think about this all the time -- these series of moments that can never be repeated, for better or worse. You can't always just "live in the moment" or whatever, but it's pretty f-ing awesome when you remember to just breathe and open your eyes and *be*, at exactly the right moment.