Newly returned, I am all disquiet.
Something new and still shapeless rattles in my head, as I rub shoulders thick with knots. What preoccupies me? What leaves me restless and faintly dissatisfied?
Maybe I never returned fully. Maybe I'm still in San Diego. And Los Angeles. And maybe Berkeley too, a deceased Berkeley, a city of the dead, populated by the ghosts of long-gone friends and ex-lovers. Emerging from my house, I hear someone yell, Phil! I turn, but I don't see anyone.
So now I find myself in thrift stores, plotting elaborate escape plans, as I unlock and lock musty suitcases. Fondling the satin linings of their aged interiors, I muse, Maybe I need another one.
Maybe I just need to hibernate. Hole myself up in my closet of a room with an armful of books and a teapot of darjeeling tea and stay there until the late spring sun sneaks in. [...]
In a dream, the title for my children's book surfaces: Leaving California.[...]
On the car trip home, I press my nose against the window, staring at the sky and the earth pimply with dry brush. I count, one by one, lamp poles, spindly radio towers and telephone posts, thinking, Not yet.