Travel Journal


(Sunday 6 February 2011) by Joanne Chang
I wasn't going to continue this travel journal after my 'leave of absence' in Cancun, Chicago and San Francisco over the holidays. Mainly because doing this before introduced a certain kind of pressure -- finding time to write, making sure it was appropriate, that it was something people would want to read. This is because I was doing it more, or mostly, for other people. But I don't have to do that. I can write whatever I want, however I want to, and people can read it or not, it's fine. I've decided to continue writing here for me, so I have an organized account of what went on in these months. Things tend to be a jumble in my brain until I write them down, and somehow knowing it's in print somewhere seems more substantial than notes and handwriting in a paper journal. Though, that will always be my most prized possession.

So this is my transition -- I took a break after Rome to meet my family for a week in Playa del Carmen (Cancun), Mexico, followed by 3 weeks in Chicago with my parents and sister for Christmas, followed by 4 weeks in San Francisco in January. New Year's in Tahoe was gorgeous, with light fluffy snow like I haven't seen in many years, and George, whom I'd met one year prior in SF, and look how far we've come. January in SF was a beautiful experience. I was a tourist in my town, biking all over the place on my fancy new bike (thank you G!), discovering places and even neighborhoods I'd never known. SF seems to have changed a lot in the short time I was gone, but it may be that I never took the time to really look around. I stayed in Dogpatch and fell in love with the area, squatted at Coffee Bar and lazed in Delores Park, biked around to get my Visas and immunizations, had sun-filled days and reconnected with my old neighborhood. I biked for the first time to Ocean Beach and back to Potrero, rid my fear of city-biking and learned to appreciate the peacefulness of riding at 1 a.m., when the streets are quiet. My legs grew. They're kind of crazy, I wonder what happens when I stop biking, does it turn to mush? My favorite meals were brunch at Serpentine, Sushi Zone trip #1, and lunch at Cotogna. If you go to Cotogna, get the house-made ricotta with mushroom crostini, it's one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life.

Leaving SF was hard, but I was ready. I wasn't sure before I got there if and when I'd want to leave again. Life there is sweet and cozy, but after 10 days I started to feel the itch. I'm not ready to settle in. I have more to explore, and though I'll be traveling far and away, most of this exploration is inward; with my divorce final (final!) as of the end of last year, I have new emotions and realities to process, and the 'moving on' can really begin. I need to find and create my path. I need to find the thing that completes me and integrate it into my life. I want this exploration to bring me back to SF, and I believe that it will, but I need to find out why.

On January 30, at midnight, I took a flight from SFO to Bangkok. Out on my own again.


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