Summer hangs sweet in the air like honey.
Or it would, if San Francisco had a regular summer like the rest of the world.
Summer in San Francisco has its own alchemy: instead of relying on vitamin d and long outdoor hours, the city lives off social electricity, music festivals and taquerias and cafes and the rare sunny day at Dolores Park. This year the fog doesn't depress me; rather it is the one constant during a time of personal change. I'm finishing my last few weeks as an International Student Advisor at an international school downtown and will begin an M.F.A. program at San Francisco State in late August. I have three weeks between my last day at work and my first day at school, two of which I plan to spend in Chile with my best friend Laurel. I finally got full-size sheets on my first full-size bed. My mother is retiring, most of my friends split their time between grad school, full-time employment, and traveling the world, and we have a fabulous president for the first time since I was twelve years old.
Life is good.
Except Ahmadinejad won (allegedly) the presidential election in Iran. Except for that, and the murder of a Holocaust Memorial guard in D.C., and the rising prices of education, life is damn good. Summer is the best time of year, even when the MUNI lines light up in the damp evening fog, and bikinis are reserved for the rare trip inland. I feel the need to dig deep for the stories that, soon enough, I'll be required to produce, and yet my mind needs tilling. It's time to turn over the sod that two years of admin does to your head.
Last week, we had to say goodbye to a group of thirty students who had completed our longest-offered program, the Academic Year. I've met hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students since I started my job in spring 2008, and there are always a few students in every group that stand out. This particular group, however, were not just students--they were peers. I felt that our school matured with them, as we perfected our customer service and fine-tuned our academics. Many of these students began their English studies in our lowest level, and progressed through the cycles to our more advanced classes. Many of them were in my own classes. One of them was our intern. They were a group of men and women from Japan, Russia, France, China, Korea, and Germany. Both individually and as a group, they made an impression on me, and reminded me that being good at any job, even if it is not your dream job, has its rewards, and they can be overpowering.
In the tradition of all things exciting, the transition from full-time worker to full-time student is a bit daunting. Am I really a writer? I keep asking myself. Is this the right investment? What will I get from this? To be fair, these are all questions I've asked of my current job, and previous ones as well. What is the best way to be professional in this world? Does it even matter?
It helps that, for the first time in many months, I find myself gravitating toward a relationship I hadn't expected. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to learn the little intimate details of another person, the small things that he might not reveal to just anyone, and how all the bullshit tends to fall by the wayside. In many ways, I feel like things are fuller, rounder, and more complete, and those things that are beyond our control are just that -- beyond.
Job ending. Students leaving. Travel planned. Boys with glasses. Sounds like summer.
the coldest winter in my life was a summer in San Francisco -- Mark Twain