On the 1st of January, Stephanie and I drove out to Stinson Beach for a hike up into the hills below Mt Tam. It was an unexpectedly gorgeous day. The sun was so warm it must have been 70 or 80°F. The sky was clear except for a slight ocean haze that gave the horizon a soft focus.
We’d just returned home the day before, after spending the holidays in Austin with my family. It’s worth emphasizing that it was the first time we’d returned home in over a year and a half. Until then we’d simply been moving forward, traveling from one place to another in a linear progression, ever since we’d left San Francisco in August 2010. I thought I’d regain that sense of belonging when we first returned to San Francisco, but I didn’t. In retrospect, October and November and December were weird. I felt out-of-touch with my surroundings and pretty uncomfortable in my own skin.
But on that beautiful day, hiking up the Matt Davis Trail, through wooded glens and over exposed grassy hillsides, I felt completely in my element. I had returned. I realized that it becomes a home when you return to it. Simply reappearing in San Francisco after 13 months wasn’t enough. We could just as well have dropped our bags anywhere. It takes concentrated time in a place for it to become home. Then you have to leave it and return.