California, here I [verb]
Looking fondly back across the Rubicon
A year ago, I interviewed at a market research think tank in San Francisco. At that point, as I had hinted at in my blog, I'd been looking for work for three months. That alone was enough to sell me, especially as I had, through college, told myself that I was firmly California bound.

I think it is possible that young people reach a point at which one desires to seek one's fortune in California or New York City. The Big Apple having never held much appeal for me, I told myself as a junior and a senior in college that I was going to head west, as Greeley urged, and stake a claim in the City by the Bay.

In that year since, I'm not sure what has happened. I spent the fall here, and the winter, and the spring, and the summer, and now the fall again. I've walked the same walk, down from a BART station on Market Street and then back up again, more than four hundred times. I don't know where the year has gone; I don't remember living it. Strange times, these.

I've come to call a quiet East Bay suburb home, although in truth this word has always seemed a little hollow. But homes do as houses are, or are what we make of them. It's a place to sleep, anyway. I've come at least to call the whine of the Caldecott tunnel, the yellow firefly streetlamps of the city, the hungry cranes of the docks, staring past my reflection in the window into the flickering walls of the Oakland underground, routine.

I've come to know the turns to get to the grocery (left left left left), the price of a ham and swiss at the corner deli ($9.46 with a cold sarsaparilla), how long to set the coffee machine for a perfectly-full espresso cup (52 seconds). I've come to internalise what time to get up (7:15), what train car to aim to board (6), and when to start wearing a jacket against the drizzle and the fog (65 degrees).

By such circadian reassurances, gnawing placated on the quotidian pacifier, are lives crafted to stability on this potter's wheel, the slow-clock tick of the calendar round. Seven degrees finds us back in September, one year on, past a year I can mark off in these posts or in pay stubs, but not in consciousness. There's a time when stability comes to complacency--silt, and shipwrecks too, stable things are.

I told the partner of the company I work for yesterday that I would be leaving. I'll tender my formal departure when the president returns. Sure it's been a long strange trip, but after a year of it, I think it's past time to begin a new one. A year's enough to sample any state, swish it around in your mouth, and decide it isn't for you. Sour grapes from this terroir, perhaps, but I never much enjoyed the San Francisco bacchanal.

Anyway, the decisions. To the west lies the Pacific and I can't go further without a boat. But it lets a guy get his back against a point of surety, and look over the rest of the country. Future plans, now. Grad school, I think. The GREs. Standardised tests, delicious scams of the educational world. So it goes--you should get a few bonus points just for being able to use ETS's godawful website.

But whatever. It goes as it goes; I go as I go. I'll keep you folks all kinds of posted.

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