What Julia Cameron writes in the Artist’s Way for Parents about the isolation of a new parent is resonating with me. Why? Because a similar isolation haunts me at the moment. I am suddenly relocated from everything familiar. I sort of know safe and not-safe neighborhoods. A person I am meeting next week wants me to “pick a place with wireless.” Well, I don’t know where that is – and since I am tutoring her in using the Meetup.com system, I’m pretty sure tethering might take a bit too much work to explain this early in her tutoring.
The first month out here, in the temp housing in San Jose, I got sick. So rather than try to go to meetups in San Jose or try to meet people, all I could do was spit out mucus and watch television. I couldn’t even go down to the workout room there. The one time I did, I had some bikini-clad girls staring at me, boggled by the fat woman at the treadmill. There’s a lot of that in California.
After the move to San Francisco, my partner went off to work, leaving me to stay home with the boxes. The mountains of boxes with our lives in it, lives we could not even think to start until opened. Lives that required massive editing because in addition to familiarity we also gave up a roomy three story townhouse for a three bedroom, one bath in a distant neighborhood. While my partner goes off to a job he loves, it’s my job to the editing. I can of course reach out to people – I’ve maintained cross country and international friendships for years. But when it’s time for a cup of coffee, I don’t know where the coffee shops are and my partner has a gift for finding the shittiest ones humanly possible. I start conversations in lines all the time – at the grocery, in those coffee shops, at the farmer’s market. Not one will lead to anything. Finding new friends requires joining groups, and joining groups is something my partner doesn’t do very well, if at all, at least not the type that I can frequent.
I could get up, drive to Oakland, but despite California’s “plan” to get more electric cars on the road they aren’t facilitated nearly as well as my partner insisted they were when he told me how madly in love with San Francisco he is. Really, chargers are bitterly competitive things, and electric cars are bitterly resented by the underclass. The one local EV meetup I hoped to attend switched to a Fiat-owners only meetup, and the owner politely suggested I check out the EV meetup…all the way down in San Jose. These are not the acts of people seeking expansive fellowship or environmental good. I don’t want a misogynistic reaming if I get distracted while charging my car. And it’s going to be awhile before we install a fast charger.
Even if I could drive the car somewhere, there’s a very good chance I would have nowhere to park it. I damn near lost a my virtue to a parking space in the Castro because of that. The buses are OK, but the Fulton line is so overcrowded it really should have a train line instead. Also, in the outer districts some buses only run every twenty minutes even though the population is high enough it should run more than that. These things also create a sense of suffocation.
The one meetup I’ve gone to was fun – for people that want to sing, for the sake of singing. But it’s also a bit out of step, and in a pretty bad neighborhood. People there use old technology. They stick to the American songbook. They like folk music, something I’ve learned to hate because I want to experience new things, not the same four Kingston trio tapes my parents owned and played over and fucking over. The two men at the meetup were over 50 and had very specific ideas of how women should be all qualities that would drive me to suicide if I had them. But they were happy I was there.
That also made me feel isolated, in a different way. No one here is 40 or almost 40. All the age meetups call for 35 and under or 50 and over. I am not those things. I am not a mommy, either, and that also tags me out. The other Pagans all live over in Oakland, or around Santa Cruz.
It’s a different kind of isolation. It’s also quite painful.
This will of course change over time. As I develop routines it gets better. I’m in a bitter mood because my routine got wildly screwed over by the Cantonese repairman today, when he took almost five hours to repair a garbage disposal, and in the process brought his wife and a plumber into our house without my permission. I had plans today, and I have deadlines, and because I work from home I often find those deadlines and myself disrespected. This is what a writing career when you also have a vagina can feel like. People just assume you’re not doing anything, not because you’re not, but because they’ve been taught over and over to be almost literally blind to it.
But yes – I do feel isolated. Yes, it does bother me. Yes, it will change, but right now I’m in it and it hurts.