When the rain starts to fall

[I started writing this two days before leaving San Francisco, and finished writing it a five days after we got to Brighton when I was feeling a bit sad and missy, so excuse me if it is a little sappy]

People keep asking what I will miss the most.

Unlimited fizzy pop refills. I say, being only partly joking – I really do like those. And the idea of always having iced water with your meal without asking for it. And the bottomless cups of coffee (even though the coffee in those bottomless cups is usually piss-weak and terrible. Sorry America, but thats basically brown water youre inhaling). These things, all of these, I will miss. Cant deny it. Its not the truth, though. Its not the thing I will miss the most.

I will miss people randomly talking to me in the street. People say hello, or just smile, because it is a nice day and you have made eye contact. They talk to you in shops because youre considering buying something theyve tried before and they want to recommend it or warn you off it. They talk to you because they like the dress youre wearing, or your jewellery, or whatever and they want to say I like what youre doing there, without needing a reply or a reciprocation, its like a drive-by compliment. That I will miss.

I will miss the sunshine, and the attitude that life is made better by experiences than by stuff ownership, but Ill be taking that with me anyway. I will miss the geography, and the fog, and the stuff nearby, and I will miss the positiveness that infects this city like the common cold.
And the sunshine. Oh, I said that already. Well, I will. A lot.

There are lots of things I will miss – (the same number of things that make me want to live here again, soon, as soon as its logistically reasonable, really) – but when asked what I will miss most, the answer should really only be one thing: My Friends.

And what I will miss the very most is my friends.

The last week in San Francisco was a whirling cloud of dust and wine and cardboard and laughing and wet eyes. I’m writing this more than a week later, as it’s the first time I’ve had time to sit down at a keyboard and take time to write anything, which is not representative of how much of a whirlwind it was, as much as how much of a logistical pain in the arse and sheer mess moving continent is. But more of that anon. The point is, inbetween the garage sales and the packing and the runs to the recycling centre, and the cleaning and the blah blah blah, we had a lot of fun.

On of the more ridiculous – and unforgettable – things we did was to rent a limousine with the core of the people who have come to make up our family of friends in San Francisco, dress up, and drive around all the best places of photo opportunity, and opportune the life out of them while drinking copious amounts of fizzy wine. See here:

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And here:

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And just generally drive around singing along with a playlist of cheesy tunes, hanging out of the window of a stretch limo with a horse head on and making sure to stop for In-n-Out burgers along the way. Yes. we were those people.

The other day, as I was wandering down to the centre of Brighton to get something boring but necessary – a phone, I think. Or a kettle. Whatever – I took with me a little ipod shuffle that I was expecting to be filled with interesting, brain-stimulating US public radio podcasts, and then found it to be still stuffed with the kind of playlist you might take along on a stretch limo ride instead. It made me smile from ear to ear, and will not be being wiped clean of that for some time to come.

The final Saturday, after we’d spent all day shoving most of our possessions onto the pavement for a garage sale, bringing them in again when it rained, taking them out again, selling stuff, packing other stuff, and cleaning and decorating the house enough to have a halloween/leaving/birthday in it – remembering to do pretty much everything on our list along the way apart from eat – people came to our flat and celebrated and farewelled and drank with us. And, while I wasn’t looking, somehow completely without my knowing, they installed a photo booth in our garage. A man came with a fully sized photo booth, and a huge box of props, and set it up. Knowing how much I love antique photo booths, and seek them out and insist on having my photo taken with everybody in them, over and over again, they did this. It was the loveliest thing I could imagine. They were all surprised when I didn’t cry when the photo booth was revealed. But I’ve cried enough about how amazing a gift it was to us as I’ve gone over the stack of hundreds of pictures left behind to make up for that.

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I can even see them online any time I please, because the service they booked (Glasscoat Photobooth) is brilliant that way.

[NB: I should note here that the reason I look a little odd in these photos is that I was wearing a blue wig. The theme of the party was Red, White Blue (thanks, Amy) because of the whole ‘moving from the US to the UK’ thing, and My Beloved was dressed as a red arrow (the British flying display team) and I was a Blue Angel (the American one)(thanks to Paul for that idea. It turned out thinking about costumes was one of the things we didn’t need to give ourselves to do that week)]

There’s not much anyone can say to this, I know. It’s just me banging on about how lucky I feel to have made the friends I’ve made – particularly me, who doesn’t make friends very easily at all – I just know that some of them might read this here blog, and to not mention it at all (and how much I love them, and will miss them, and am looking forward to seeing them soon, here or there), seemed almost criminal.

Well, not quite criminal. That’s probably a bit strong. It’s not like shoplifting. Or using your phone during take-off, or something. Or arson. Or farting in a lift. Or murder. It seemed lower level criminal than that. By quite some distance. Anyway.

That is that. And now we are back in Brighton with other wonderful friends – here and around here – and ready for the next set of new adventures.
ADVENTURES, I SAY. Thanks.