No Place, California

Last weekend I clocked over 300 miles on my car, and I wasn’t even road-tripping to LA or anything. Just covering the Bay Area roads, from Novato to Nicasio to Bolinas to Stinson to Ocean Beach to San Jose and back, and then the next day back out to Bolinas and up through Point Reyes (for cheese twists and sticky buns and a baguette from the Bovine Bakery – oh. my. GOD). I passed through what felt like a million little microclimates, from temperate Novato to misty Stinson to hot San Jose to a terrifying midnight drive along socked-in Skyline Drive on the Peninsula, ordinarily one of my favorite roads, but on this night a no-visibility driver’s hell.

 

Nothing clears my mind like time on the open road, and nothing makes me feel so Californian as pushing it past 90 on the freeway, back window vibrating from the speakers, singing and thinking. I watched the landscapes roll by – the hairpin turns of Highway 1 over Tamalpais, a terrible accident on the Golden Gate Bridge, the gorgeous roll of 280, the brown hills that curl around San Jose. I came into San Francisco and stopped in my old neighborhood to grab bevvies at Noriega Produce and while I thought I would be super-emo coming back into the City, I wasn’t. All I miss is the waves and a couple of shops.

 

I realized, while driving, that I have become, for this brief spell of time, a person who belongs to no particular place. I am no longer a San Franciscan, not yet an Angeleno (which I see as a real possibility in the future), and though I live in Marin, I don’t yet feel like a true Marinite (Mariner? Marinian?), though adopting a surly ‘use the pullouts!’ attitude towards tourist drivers on the West Marin backroads on Sunday kind of made me begin to feel like one. Right now I truly call no place home, and that is a very rare, and very interesting, feeling. I am the coin flipping in the air again – turning over and over, many paths of possibility to choose from, everything open. Just like the road.

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