Sunday, August 14, 2011

S.F. Locals

By Pauly
San Francisco, CA

Another day, another airport. That's what I'm doing as we speak -- sitting in a swanky SFO terminal and super giddy about not being molested by TSA. I guess they know that San Francisco and Bay Area residents are more likely to stand up to the Man and opt out of those radiation machines, so SFO took a proactive approach and minimized their usage. As a result, no cock check!

I'm supposed to fly the redeye to Chicago. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks ever since I departed Las Vegas. I haven't had a chance to catch my breath and sit down and write properly. I only have a few minutes everyday, and even then, I've been trying to get as much down as possible, but I'm in one of those moods where I don't feel like sharing what I have to say. 95% of the time, I have no shame. But right now, I'm in that strange, bewildered state when I have such little time and so much to say -- that I'd rather wait for a time when I'm not doing anything. When will that time come? Soon, I hope.

We bailed Vegas as quickly as we have ever done so. I did my best to say some goodbye, but even those were rushed. I've been asked numerous times when I'd be back -- and the answer is simply -- I don't know. It's hard for me to think about future trips and excursions when I'm in the middle of one, so it won't be until I stop traveling and sit down to re-work my work/travel/play schedule for the rest of the year and figure out what the hell I'm doing with my life. Then again, since I'm moving to San Francisco at the end of the month, I have a longing desire to go nowhere for an extended amount of time -- except explore the city.

Nicky and I were home for less than three days before we flew up to San Francisco to check out Halli's apartment. After a couple days in Northern California, we headed back to LA and started throwing out shit and packing up stuff. It took me 4 hours to get everything together. It's took Nicky a week to toss out about half of her belongings -- which I'm proud of -- because I know it was tough to do, not to mention a pain-staking task. Memories are tough to toss, well, at least memories attached to material objects. That's why hoarders have mental issues with clutter -- because they are afraid to throw away memories. Me? I cherish my memories in my head, but I'm one who prefers to live in the moment -- in the NOW -- so it's hard for me to hoard anything.

After a thorough week of packing, we prepped for Phish tour -- 12 shows spread out over a month. It's sort of a west coast tour (Washington state, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, and Hollywood), but not really because there were stops scheduled for Denver and Chicago.

We flew to Seattle, rented a car, spent two days catching up with old friends, then drove to the Gorge and camped out there for a couple of days for two Phish shows. Human Head and Mrs. Head drove all the way from Idaho to join us for an evening of fun. I wish we had more time to see them! We flew back to LA and caught a show at the Hollywood Bowl. It felt good to have a hometown Phish show because they don't do SoCal very often. The hardest part of the journey was a drive from LA to Lake Tahoe -- a total of almost nine hours -- all of which was handled by Nicky. Yeah, she did the hero drive to Tahoe and saved the day. As a result, we had a shit ton of fun with friends and discovered a new-found love of Lake Tahoe and the casinos of Stateline, NV. I've soured on Vegas, especially after the events from this summer, but Tahoe is more our vibe. It's less than four hours from San Francisco and we are already considering trips back to Tahoe. At this point if you ask me about Vegas, I'd be more likely to blow it off and opt for Tahoe instead.

After two sensational days in Tahoe, we headed to San Francisco for four days. We caught Phish as the headliner at the Outside Lands Music Festival inside Golden Gate Park. We started the week seeing Phish at the Hollywood Bowl for a hometown show and we ended the week on Friday with a Phish show in San Francisco -- our new hometown. It felt great to wake up in our bed (newly purchased and arrived in time for us) and experience both the show and the festival as "locals."

My entire existence in Los Angeles has been that of an outsider. I never fit in. I wasn't good looking enough. I loathed the social scene. I never went out, instead holing myself up inside my office to write and write and write. Sometimes it's easier to hide out in plain sight.

A colleague sent me an email yesterday that said, "I could never figure out why you were living in LA." Another person (friend of a friend in Seattle) who didn't know me very well at all blurted out, "You're too nice to live in LA."

Hmmm...both people summed up what I've been struggling with the last four years. In short, I loved my girlfriend immensely -- so much so -- I was willing to live in a completely undesirable city as the stereotypical grumpy New Yorker. But, no mas.

After a week in San Francisco already this year, I've grown more attached to the city than four years in the City of Angels. Sure, I'll miss specific food places and Malibu Beach and the warmth of the SoCal sun in the winter months when everyone else is freezing their ass off. But I traded warm temperatures to live in a city full of vapid douches and docuhettes. I traded them in for NoCal hipsters. I'm sure they will irk me eventually, but for now, I've welcomed my new city -- home of the plaid shirt (guys) and the brown boot mafia (gals).

On Saturday night, Halli took us to a Peruvian restaurant around the corner from our apartment. I thought it was weird, because Nicky and I rarely ate out on a weekend in LA unless it was a special occasion. Like I said, we rarely ventured out into the City of Angels, especially on the weekends, because we both hated the denizens of Tinsel Town. In just a three-day period, I went to more bars in San Francisco than I did in four years in LA. As you can already tell, we're both digging the vibe of Northern California. NYC will always be my hometown, but with the exception of Seattle, I really never felt more comfortable anywhere else I lived (including Atlanta and Las Vegas).

So, now I'm sitting in an airport waiting for my group to be called so I can stuff my carry-on into the overhead compartment before a horde of angle shooters try to put two or more bags in their allotted space. I've been fighting back the "nods" because I'm falling asleep and forced myself to write so I wouldn't pass out at the gate, slumped in my chair, and miss the flight to Chicago.

I never sleep on planes, especially on redeyes. I'm hoping tonight will be the exception. Three nights in Chicago, then it's back to LA for less than ten days before we migrate to San Francisco for an indefinite amount of time. I'd love to say that I'm not going anywhere for a month, maybe two. Even an intrepid wanderer like myself gets tired of the road and needs some time to patch my bones.

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