We lived in San Francisco for almost 8 years and returned to it after 5 months of living in my parents and 3 weeks of living with a friend in New Orleans (our new home). Our stuff was in boxes in three different states, neither of us had jobs yet, and we’re living in this surreal cancer world where life hasn’t been normal for a long time.
Visiting San Francisco in our current situation is like what I envision spending a week with your ex that you were in love with but broke up with because you wanted different things but you haven’t moved on to someone new yet must be like. You look really good San Francisco.
It’s wonderful, sad, and surreal all at the same time. We hung out with our friends, going the places we used to go, and nothing there has really changed. It still fits like a glove and that’s hard and confusing.
It was also the perfect chemo vacation. We stayed with friends in a neighborhood that had a lot nearby that we could walk to. This was key because I decided taking Muni (the public transportation system) was a bad idea with my weak immune system since it’s flu season and riding Muni is a like sharing a dirty needle. Because we lived there so long and left this year I didn’t feel like there was anything I had to see so it was ok being really limited (I can’t walk very far either). I already did my farewell to San Francisco tour in March. Our friends and family were also all willing to come to us and keep things low key. We were there for a wedding and it was wonderful to get really dressed up and go to a party where everyone was dressed up after living in PJs and yoga pants for the last 4 months. In a funny turn of events, A. forgot his suit and I forgot my dress. You know, the only two articles of clothing we actually needed to bring. I got to have a dress montage at the apt with two friends lending me an assortment of options.
We got there via Southwest for a couple of reasons. There are direct flights between SF and NOLA through United (that’s for you SF friends and family), but we had left things that wouldn’t fit in our car to come back for and we also knew we might have to leave early because of me so free checked bags and no fees for canceling or changing flights won the game (I’m available for hire Southwest). I didn’t wear a wig because I thought that might get weird with security and also didn’t want it to look all ragged from wearing it on a plane all day so I balded it up with my face mask. They let us pre-board which is pretty sweet since you can choose your seat, it was also necessary because I get tired doing a lot of standing and the find your seat shuffle would have been tough. It was the first time I have ever not been delayed between LA and SF, it was a cancer miracle. We didnt have anyone sit next to us for for the first plane because my face mask, baldness, and sad cancer look I gave everyone walking down the aisle. I eased up after that.
I didn’t know how my second taxol treatment would go and was cautiously hopeful. I made plans, but caveated that they could all fall apart. I also didn’t make other plans because I knew I’d be exhausted and might be sick on top of that. A typical day in SF for me was a plan with someone (like lunch), a few hours of resting, another plan, and then going to bed way before everyone else. All part of my being 65 years old right now. This obviously limited my ability to see people and that was the hardest part. I also couldn’t do a big meet up because bars aren’t really a great place for me right now and I get too tired to interact with a ton of people.
My big accomplishment was being able to see everyone that I made plans with and do everything I planned. It helped me feel like a person and not just a patient. I also felt good because I paced myself well enough to get through it all. I still had some rough spots, but that’s chemo. Monday I got lunch and went for a little walk in my old hood the Upper Haight with a friend. I had a true Upper Haight experience in buying a $4 cup of coffee and having to avoid poo on the sidewalk every few feet. Stay classy SF. Anyways in this short excursion I plummeted in how I felt, going from fine to exhausted, dizzy, and unpleasant feeling. No rhyme or reason as to why the worst I felt from this treatment was a week from the dose. My tiredness came and went too. One night I’d be up until 11pm and another I’d barely be able to keep my eyes open at 9:45. I fortunately didn’t get any fevers while I was in SF which was my biggest concern. No trips to the emergency room in SF!
One of the best and the hardest times was visiting my old office. I spent around 4 hours at the office just going from aisle to aisle and sitting and talking to people and I still didn’t have enough time. On one hand it felt so good to see everyone and on the other it just wasn’t enough. I wanted more time to spend with my friends and catch up in person on their lives and also just enjoy time together without the pressure of making the most of it. I left when I got exhausted, well maybe a while after I got exhausted, and still wanted more.
I think it will be a long time before a year will pass when A. and I don’t make a trip to SF because of our friends and family there so I just have to pacify myself knowing I’ll be back and next time I’ll be able to do so much more.
We got rained in and had a bonus day in SF. Fortunately our flight was cancelled before we got up so we didn’t have to sit around a crowded airport waiting on delays. We spent the day in the apt with our friends hosting us and it was a much needed rest day for me and bonus time with them. The storm of the century was pretty unimpressive from where we were staying and we never lost power or internet.
The ride back we had delays from SF and from LA which were pretty lame. Also lame that an airport the size of LAX doesn’t have decent food options. I paid $17 for a sandwich that sucked and a water. I expect a movie with those prices. A. got some guff from the SF Southwest gate attendant about getting pre-boarding for me. She apparently said that we could get on last instead. I kind of wanted to cancer shame/punch her in the face when he told me. And by “kind of”, I mean that I fantasized about it for the rest of the time we waited to board and exercised a lot of restraint especially when she announced that anyone who needed to pre-board should come see her. I’m not wishing that she gets cancer, but I definitely wish something bad happens to her, worse than my usual go-to of a bird pooping on her head. I never said that I’m not vindictive.
I expected to be really sad when we left and feel weird about leaving. I didn’t. I looked forward to coming home to New Orleans and I think that was a really important step in my breakup with San Francisco. SF will always have a place in my heart and have been an important part of my life, but I’m moving on and excited about my future with New Orleans. It’s a new relationship and we have a lot to experience together still, but it feels right and I think it could be the one.