A trucker just drove past with a dog in the passenger seat and an alligator head on the dashboard and I am in a bus bound for Washington DC. The sky is gray and the highway is flanked by green and we are somewhere in Pennsylvania or New Jersey or Delaware. American flags hang from cranes stopped from their work and I am going to see how the 4th of July is really done.
This week I’ve learned that in only six months, San Francisco has made me forget how it feels to be hot, to be sweaty and sticky and to surrender to the oppressive warmth of the atmosphere. San Francisco has made me forget what it feels like to be outside in the middle of the night in sandals and a dress and walk slowly down the street, because there’s no other way to be on a summer night in Manhattan than relaxed. It’s so warm that it feels like someone’s taking care of you, like they’ve brought the evening to the exact temperature you need to feel alive. Like they’ve put the drum circle and the fountain and the laughter in Washington Square Park because they knew you’d be passing through, because they knew you wanted to feel like you were in some kind of heaven.
And you know what else they have here? Fireflies. Someone teased me when I stopped the conversation to point them out, the little floating lights that come and go. They teased me but I hadn’t seen fireflies since a summer in Michigan when I was 12, and to me they are magic.
Living in San Francisco has made me forget what summer means, but can despite all the beauty in New York – the heat and the life and the streets of trees and brick – can I tell you what leaving San Francisco has done? Made me want to go back.