Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


It is late on a Tuesday night and the rain's finally stopped outside and the air is balmy and I am trying to remember how to breathe. I am a big bundle of anxiety. I am racing heart and whipping mind and short inhales and twisting gut. I am all that yoga is supposed to make me not.

In the span of 24 hours I've seen a place, sold my soul for its garden view, slept fitfully, marched to the bank in galoshes and yellow raincoat, and signed the next year of my life away for a little patch of hardwood and city just off the cable car line. For six years now I've hovered here in a warm wooden red-colored art- and antique-filled bay windowed flat on Sacramento Street, right on the down-slope of Nob Hill, and now, suddenly, I'm packing up and sorting and consolidating and tossing, preparing to trade these old boards for new ones.

It's so much more emotional than I expected. I turned 30 this year, knew from this experience and that that I'm an Official Adult now, grown-up and all that shit, IRA and renter's insurance and what-have-you, and part of that shift has been realizing an urgent need for a space and a silence all my own, a nook of a place that I can fill with plants and books and music and do yoga in the early morning sunlight and drink coffee and write trite inflammatory bullshit that no one will ever read.

It's different in the city, this searching for a place to lay one's head; the rates are sky high and the possibility of owning a pipe dream for anyone but the very well-off, and I've been reasonably resigned to renting for the duration of my life here, in spite of waste and the frustration. But rents are relatively low now and supply high and it's time and this little gem of a garden flat kind of fell into my lap unexpectedly on a blue-skied Monday morning in October and so today in the midst of torrential rain and hurricane gales I hauled my grown-up lady coat and cloche over to sign the papers. And now the next few days will be a whirl of phone calls and movers and boxes and whatnot.

And god, the clinging. The attachment. The unexpected yogic lessons coming out of my ears. I sat in my new yoga philosophy class last night and Chase talked about one-pointed focus and calming the mind and directing the thoughts and being here now and very ironically, of course, all I could do was sit there and make checklists and think shit, will all my shit fit in this new place and what about the sunlight and what about my yoga mats and where the hell did I get so many books and where will I stash the picnic basket and the piano? And on and on ad infinitum while my body sat in one room and my mind in another. And that mind today clings to memories of this place that has been my home for so many golden years, that has seen thesis chapters and Ford Festivas and afternoon sunlight in the bay window and whores underneath in the wee hours and earthquakes and most of all, most of all, my father for a very brief moment, my sick dying father who was here for a half a day, long enough to eat dinner in Chinatown and climb Nob Hill past Grace Cathedral and walk through my empty wooden apartment and turn to me understatedly and say, "Well, Rach, it looks like you've got a good little home here." And just for that my heart breaks on leaving this place, this place whose floors that absent father once tread, knowing that it is the last home he will ever see or smell or approve of.

Clinging. We're not supposed to cling to things or people or places or concepts or ideas. Buddhism teaches it. Yogic theory teaches it. You have to let go, release, detach. I thought I was so good at this. Non-materialistic, anti-consumptive, living simply, blah blah blah. What a smack in the arrogant face this anxiety is to that. Clinging to hopes and holiday parties and men and memories, all in this space that held so many before me and will hold more after I leave it. Strange to think others will live here, here in this space that feels so much my own. In the city somehow there is a more transient sensibility about homes; you get used to trading up and trading down according to whim, and somehow I've managed to avoid that heretofore; but now it's new light and different street sounds and the clanging of a cable car bell outside and palms in the morning and a new slant on things, a new wooden floor to get my bare feet accustomed to.

How easy to try to cling to the status quo. How interesting that excitement over new beginnings can so quickly morph into sorrow for the abandonment of what was. As if the physical presence could ever promise permanence of what has long disappeared anyway, old selves and old goals and old versions of our lives.

Perpetual flux. Quantum physics affirms it. Why do we resist it? Because of the way it reminds us of aging and the passage of time? Because of the strange sorrow that comes of sorting through old things, decade-old clothes that smell of outdated perfume and expired paramours and the knotty whiff of people and places so long gone?

The cable car keeps running back and forth, endlessly up and down California Street, on an endless track going nowhere. And the hair greys. And the joints ache. And people who were once present are now only apparitions. And the sky stays. And the light stays. And there is a sickness to all of that perpetuity that curdles the stomach and wets the cheeks.

It is harder than I expected.

Comments

mattabbott said…
I'm excited for you and your new apartment! What a great opportunity this move is giving you to relive your memories and experience these emotions. I would love to help you with the move, but unfortunately I live approximately 2,969 miles away.
Mariah said…
ah, shit. and i'm bawling now. thanks sis.

i love you. i can't wait to see your new place.

i ache for the places and things dad approved of in his ever calm and few worded ways. so very much. indeed.

it will make sense in your body soon enough, your new home. and you'll be over the stress and lists and anxiety (at least in this endeavor). it will be a good day.

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