Today was the three month anniversary of my being posted just outside of San Francisco on a side gig for the summer.
For over 15 miles and elevations from sea level to 1000 feet I felt guided up through the trail system that spreads out from the belly of Muir Woods and down through the mountains that the eclectic architecture of Sausalito hangs from like blooming gardens in Babylon.
I suddenly was at a point that I could see both the valleys I’ve been happily ambling through these 90 days and down into Sausalito proper, nevermind the whitewashed glory of San Fran gleaming across the strait. I could even see Oakland, and Tiburon was just so oddly visually bucolic in comparison to all else in the distance, even though it is as built up as almost every shore in these waters except my namesake one, Angel Island.
It didn’t even fully register it was my three month anniversary while I was traipsing about, just this sense that I was to keep going, and that Sausalito proper was giving an assist to Angel Island to get me to come pay my propers. It is as beautiful as I’d always imagined it, reminded me of what I felt like learning to float in the warm waters of Miami in 2011, visually speaking.
A big chunk of a Grievechronic character’s jewel-like backstory occurs on the Angel Island that lives in me, which happens to also actually be this one because it is where Chinese coming into America were once temporarily detained from 1910 through 1940 until they’d proven they had actual family already in the United States.
My grandmother was born in 1916, and the uncles she had to run off to be looked after by when things got crazy down south had arrived here around the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, decades before the construction of the facilities on Angel Island. I now see my ferocious zeal in my twenties once I found out about Manzanar, Rosewood, the Velvet revolution and the like [that impacted my fashion shows]… as weirdly connected to things this blood experienced long before the splice that is me was a possibility, like the cellular memory of the conditions they came through and all the pogrom-oriented perversions of a certain segment of this society came together when GC began and worldbuilding wildness ensued.
But most importantly, to me, in a personal, weird sense anyway…is that it is on this very real Angel Island that ANY of the Chinese blood connected to me that was Not able to track those Uncles once they got here due to them all deciding life Had to be better beyond this bay area and heading en masse so deep into the south… was kept… until they were deported. Back to whatever they had escaped to get here.
…And that is a trajectory that hits me hard.
… So yeah… I gotta go. See what all that is going to be about For Real, instead of ambling through akashic records somehow stored in my head. More so than anything else out here left to do is that.
I’m curious to see …what me and cloud of witnesses got right, you know? And how much my ancestors riffing on the winds is going to turn out to be spot on. It’s a great thing about writing, being inspired to imagine something that in some ways you can kind of find out.
My grandmother came back here during World War 2. A mixed Chinese, Black and Irish chick married to a mixed Native American and Black man fighting in the Pacific Theater. She Hated San Francisco, too…but maybe all of it is generational memory, seeing the cemeterial aspects of that city.
But somehow… what I have not been able to shake these three months…is there is somehow a very real history to the peace I feel out here, explicitly where I am. And I hear my Granddad’s whistle on the winds all the time out here. It’s distinct, because he couldn’t whistle, but he did it all the time anyways lol. There’s a 75% chance that where I am… is down the road from where my grandparents were stationed during the war.
As for Angel Island, even it doesn’t feel heavy… even though the GC arc is WiiiiLd. The Muses-the bookkids- have yet to let me in on how it ends lol…but as I sat here writing today, I got this weird sense that it ends well, that there may even be “romanticals” involved. Which made me chuckle in surprise. We’ll see.
I’m at “We’ll see” about a lot of things these days.