I woke up to fog this morning. So thick, we couldn’t see the cars from the front door. This wouldn’t be so strange if I were still in San Francisco, but I’m not. The air grew so smokey at the end of August that I was afraid to make the short journey from my rented bedroom to nearby Glen Canyon. The stillness drove me insane. The fact that my shut-tight room was still inundated with the scent of fire and plastic melting against bone did not help. So, I flew back to my parents’ home and my brother and sister’s basement office. Fled really. I have always been afraid of stagnation. And I woke to fog today.
The last couple mornings, on our drive into my brother’s, me for Wi-Fi and my dad for toddler watch, the conversation turned toward where we feel “home.” Sometimes it’s the absolute isolation he felt in Bernie, California at twenty-one or he and Mom’s almost-move to Roseburg, Oregon. Other times it’s city life or suburb commutes. We’ve talked before about the lifestyles my brothers have chosen and the wanderlust in me. These days, though, he reminds me that sleeping and working in the City doesn’t mean I get to see much of San Francisco. That it takes effort, took effort even before, to stay connected. That it’s about priorities and making it work even when it means giving up on what you thought you wanted. And, he asked, what is that you want now?
I can’t say I have an answer, but I do like the look of fog moving though douglas firs and the alders finally turning red and brown. San Francisco is always moving, but the seasons’ change moves smaller and sweeping rather than the all-encompassing fresh start of my hometown.
Fog used to just mean October or November to me. This morning, the fog told me, “Happy Autumn, my friend,” like it once did weekly on my drives to school. Then, for a while, fog meant that I followed, am following my dreams, as cliché as that may be. I grew accustomed to the way it refracts sound across Glen Park and I presumed it meant nothing any longer. I woke to fog this morning and when I realized that I am not in San Francisco, my heart hurt.
Yet, if we stay online, stay connected through Zoom and text and email, I cannot be sure that I will return to the City by the Bay; instead, I may seek a mountain town or perhaps the plains of the ocean side. Seek beyond river valley, beyond desert and beyond bayside. Wherever I go, I swear to listen for what the fog has to say.
Margaret Benson is a 2nd year Nonfiction student.