I was idly stirring an iced tea at a sunny table of the Chateau Marmont when the ever-debonair and deadly Iron Duke Haney said something important to me.

‘Listen to that sound in the background,’ he said. And over the quiet lull of tourists and minor celebrities talking (one smiling girl made her entrance to a group a couple of tables over saying ‘Sorry! I don’t want to be that actress who’s always late!’), beyond the pristine green of the garden, I could hear the quietly intrusive buzz of someone doing yard work.

‘You’ll always remember that,’ Duke said. ‘Once you pay attention to the little things going on around you they’re with you forever; when you think of this moment, you’ll think of that sound.’

There’s a moment in San Francisco that is indelibly inscribed on my memory; proof of Duke’s point.

I was walking up Market Street; I had to leave the US the following night. The late afternoon sun was slowly setting behind Sutro Tower and I could see three lines of shadow were scored across the clouds above. It took me a second to realise the shadows were being thrown onto the sky by the tower itself, and I stood on the sidewalk and watched the sky as people on their way to wherever it was they needed to go bustled past me, oblivious.

For no reason I could think of (my meeting Duke was still some months away), I thought You should remember this.

The bad news had arrived shortly after New Year’s… or rather, it hadn’t. For a month, I’d been working on reviews of porn sites (a profession which remains the greatest ice-breaker I’ve ever had). I’d been in regular contact with my boss in Scotland throughout, volunteering to do extra work when other writers didn’t come through with the goods, taking on smaller admin jobs that he needed to get done, working late on extra jobs that came down to the wire. And then, when I sent through my first invoice… nothing.

At first, I hadn’t worried. I figured, OK, It’s Christmas, it’s New Year’s, it’s the holiday season. Of course, the wheels are going to be turning a little slowly. But after a week went past and I’d heard nothing back, I became concerned. Emails, both to my supervisor and to company headquarters, went unanswered.  International phone calls to the head office got me to a barely-intelligible answering machine and no further.

Only two words kept my spirits high – signed contract.

But that was then.

After a couple of weeks had passed and no word had been forthcoming, I realised I’d been stooged.

Not to worry
, I thought. I’ve still got plenty of time to find another job and make enough money to fulfil the terms of my visa. After all, it’s not like there’s some worldwide economic collapse, or ‘Global Financial Crisis’ waiting in the wings!

I spent the next three months burning through my savings while I searched for a job in San Francisco. I checked the want ads on and offline every morning, afternoon, and night, determined to leave no stone unturned. I applied  as a research analyst at a boutique global marketing company (that interview, in which I was invited to take off my shoes, was a strange one). I applied as the communications manager of an umbrella group of emergency services websites. I applied to be a waiter, a bookshop assistant, a freelance editor, a parking attendant, a yogi’s PA. I went to cattle-call interviews where one guy was so exhausted from searching for work he fell asleep in the waiting room (he didn’t get the gig). I stood outside a bar that was advertising for about ten positions in a line of about three hundred people (it was the first ten minutes of their second interview session that day). I got up at five for the train ride out to a bakery miles away; the family business of a friend’s partner.

Fellow travelers and transients commiserated, all of us coming to grips with the collapse of our hopes and dreams, of our lives. ‘This is so fucked,’ another Australian, another writer, said to me. ‘This is so fucked. I can’t believe I have to go back home. I’ve already booked my ticket. What are you going to do?’

‘Keep looking,’ I said. ‘Something has to turn up. So… You got any leads?’

News came from Australia about entire departments getting retrenched, their 9-5 lifestyles king-hit by the economy, forcing them back into the market along with their co-workers. While I stood and spoke to my competition at bartending interviews, we swapped horror stories.

Did you hear about the bar job with one vacancy for two night’s work a week, where two hundred people turned up to interview?

Let me tell you about my friend with a PhD – he’s bussing at Red Lobster now.

Oh, man, I remember that Craigslist’s ad. Yeah, they took it down after half an hour because of the number of responses.

I ran on the treadmill at 24 Hour Fitness (not that I needed the exercise. There wasn’t a bar for miles that I hadn’t walked into with a copy of my resume) and watched the news reports about how Obama was going to fix everything with a click of his fingers. I wanted to believe that more than anyone who actually voted for him.

Eventually, I came to terms with the truth. It was time to go. I had to choose to do so rather than void my visa – conditional as it was on earning above a certain amount in a year – and risk being barred from ever returning.

Kayak.com and United Airlines took me back to Australia. Misery welled up in me as I selected my flight and hit ‘Confirm.’ There was no part of me of that said Yes, this is the right thing to do. Instead, I simply thought I fucking hate this.

And then it was time to say goodbye.

I’ve been blessed with a good memory, but even in the clarity of remembrance, certain moments stand out.

Walking down 18th and seeing a guy, crying, shaking his hands at the sky and screaming ‘Like every day of my goddamn life!’ to his wheelchair-bound friend, while dozens of tiny chocolate Easter Eggs flew out of his pockets and cascaded on the sidewalk. The sight seemed to only make him more distressed, and he started stamping them flat, deaf to condolences.

The three impeccably-dressed drag queens who stopped me in the Castro to say hello, and then cooed and squealed when Australian-tinged vowels fell from my mouth. As I said goodbye, I heard one of them call ‘Goodbye, Hugh Jack-maaaaan!’ and the other two burst into delighted laughter.

Sitting in a cafe in Haight-Ashbury while it was still cold and dark outside, a bunch of early-morning-shift cops our only company, waiting to catch the first bus home.

The political roller disco where Zoe warned me about Ron’s outfit, and I walked out of the taqueria to find all six foot four of him crammed into a skin-tight Julio Iglesias t-shirt and the shortest shorts I’ve seen outside of a Jessica Simpson video clip (the same outfit he was in later that night at the hospital emergency room, where we took another friend after she came down badly off her roller skates).

Opening the door one night to meet the guy one of my housemates had been having an affair with looking unimpressed, claiming that she’d stolen his car (he couldn’t tell the cops because then his wife would find out). He later described me to her as ‘the kind of guy who understood,’ whatever the hell that means.

A late-night, street-corner poetry slam with Laura from England. A burner party with Lexie from France where we snuck in rum to fill coconuts with, aided and abetted by Epiphany the ticket girl. Freezing cold with Sydney from Switzerland and Buffy the cosplay artiste (who’d won me over with her single-use catchphrase of ‘Not today, Mavis!’) while we tried flagging people down to donate money to starving children.

Obama’s inauguration, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.

The Golden Gate Bridge.

Clarion Alley.

The Mission. The Castro. Noe Valley. Japantown.

This was the place I’d flown 7, 416 miles to get to. This was listening to the Freestylers on the way to get my morning coffee at Urban Bread, and the Dandy Warhols on the way back. This was season 2 of 30 Rock, season 3 of Dexter, season 6 of The L Word.  This was The Wrestler, The Yes Man, He’s Just Not That Into You.

This was my house and my housemates, and the way Laurel and I had unthinkingly worked out our daily greeting of an almost-shouted, cheery hello followed by exasperated gasps of ‘Fuckin’ Laurel’, ‘Fuckin’ Simon’, and a long, drawn-out sigh. This was all the people I’d known for months and years over the internet that I was meeting for the first time. This was all the people I met in cafes, at the gym, at parties and bars. This was all of their stories, that I shared, however briefly, just as they shared mine.

This was home.

And finally, this was closing my eyes as the plane to Sydney lifted off from the runway at SFO into the darkness of the night and thinking What happens now?

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

118 responses to “San Francisco International – Departures”

  1. Sarah says:

    What happens now is you get your ass back however you can as soon as you can, that’s what. I know you’re working on it but chop, chop my friend, time’s-a-wasting.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories. I almost feel like I’ve been there.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I would have been back a lot quicker if I hadn’t gotten persuaded by that magic bean salesman. What embarrasses me is that this is the third damn time.

      You’re very welcome. There are more, but, limited space and all that.

  2. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    What happens now? You get to try again. It took a lot of courage to keep looking for a job in the U.S. when the world appeared to be crumbling. It won’t always be like this, although the 24-hour media crazy-making would suggest otherwise.

    “my meeting Duke was still some months away”: There’s the Smithson prescience at work again. (Oh lookie, take the word apart and it reads pre science.)

    Wonderful anecdotes and snapshots…vivid and funny.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Goddamn GFC. That thing was never going to be my friend.

      I thought pre-science was Einstein’s early-morning basketball session?

      Oh, Simon. Some day, you’ll pay for these terrible jokes.

      Thanks Ronlyn. I get a lot of fish oil in my diet; it helps with tracking down memories for TNB pieces.

  3. Jeremy says:

    If you can’t trust pornographers, who can you trust?

    Well done, Simon. My favorite image is the distraught guy with the Easter eggs. So like a dream.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      HA! I’ve said those very words myself. It really destroyed my faith in human nature – but restored my faith in stereotypes (they make things easier).

      It was the strangest goddamn thing I think I’ve ever seen. The moments before, during, and after it were like normal life-normal life-normal life-DADA EVERYBODY!-normal life-normal life-normal life.

  4. Greg Olear says:

    Not only do you get to keep all those memories, you also got the opportunity to look at all thos epron sites. It could have been worse. You could have been reviewing…anything else.

    You’ll be back. Does anyone think Simon Smithson won’t be back? [silence] No? I didn’t so.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      The best part was working through the list of reviews alphabetically. Seriously, the guys who put these sites together have little to no imagination. ‘Bi’, ‘Br’, and ‘Bu’ were all interesting days.

      Damn straight. Thanks Greg!

  5. Alison Aucoin says:

    If the last five years have taught me anything it’s that you can have multiple homes for multiple purposes/phases of life. It’s those places where you have those omnipresent moments of, “Man, this is something in the middle of nothing special and I better remember it. It’s going to mean something someday. ” Oh and you always go back, one way or another.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, I like that idea. Especially about the idea of collecting a pocketful of moments because one day they’ll be important. Thanks, Alison.

  6. Matt says:

    Well, done, Simon. I think this might be one of my favorites of yours.

    Goddamn Scottish pornographers….they ruin everything. I think when David gets back to Scotland he should recruit Irwin and the two of them should track this disreputable individual down and collect what’s rightly yours–under threat of a good shit-needling, of course. It’d be like one of the pre-Madonna Guy Ritchie films.

    I’m inclined to believe, in that particular moment, you would’ve enjoyed stamping a few chocolate eggs yourself. A little smashy-smashy can sometimes make things feel a bit better.

    I agree with Greg. You’ll be back.

    (‘Fuckin’ Simon.’ Heh.)

  7. Zara Potts says:

    Where was I when Duke said that? Damn, I need to pay more attention to things!!! Thank God, you are looking and listening.

    As for ‘what happens now’.. none of us really know the answer to that. And it drives us insane. I always want to know what’s in store and I want to make plans and have a map of where I should be going – But I find whenever I try and manipulate the future, it never quite works out according to my plan. But, oh! wouldn’t it be great to have it all mapped out perfectly, like a join the dots picture? But then again, if we had it all mapped out we might avoid the seemingly tiny or painful things that happen to us that switch us to another track, which oftentimes turns out to be the right track.

    One thing I do know, is that you have so much talent and charm and brilliance that you can do anything, make anything happen, manifest whatever you want.
    Trust yourself, Brew. It’ll happen.

    Meantime, shine on like the diamond you are.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      You were busy trying to work out if you got get a sneaky photo in at the Chateau Marmont gardens. And talking about how Duke and I have similar eyes.

      I love having a set track. My God, I can’t get enough of it. I think I want to marry a blueprint some day.

      You’re the best, brew. Shine on right back.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Oh yes. Now I recall. It’s good that I concentrate on all the really important things like taking sneaky pictures eh?
        No wonder I was a high school drop out.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          The ice tea was excellent. And it was right after that we dropped off some food to a homeless guy (after making sure he was homeless and we weren’t being really insulting) and then caught up with Ben Loory.

          Apart from the sad fact that I had to leave America – again! – that evening, it was a good day.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Thanks for being my memory, Brew. Best I get onto the fish oil.

  8. Ducky Wilson says:

    Hey, I offered permanent citizenship for a measly 5.5 million, but you let the clock run out.

  9. jmblaine says:

    Did you say the Freestylers?
    And roller skating?

    The Freestylers make the best roller skating music since like –
    The Egyptian Lover.

    That guy with the eggs falling from his pockets?
    That was the prophet.
    Life is so absurd.

  10. Slade Ham says:

    I should just mention that you have quickly become one of my absolute favorite contributors here. You write the way I read, if that means anything at all. Bravo. That is all.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Ah, Slade. You’re all right, man, you’re all right.

      It means a bunch. And I have to say, I loved your story of your crazy ex so much that I’ve been telling everyone I know about it. We should start our own two-man site. But don’t tell anyone.

  11. This is a great piece, as someone who also reluctantly left San Francisco (though during the recession before this one and looking back from the Bay Bridge) this brings back the same feelings. You describe it perfectly and with images and moments that feel like they could have only been taken from there.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I really like that we’ve got two pieces so concerned with place sitting next to each other now; Vegas and SF. Thanks, Nathan, it’s good to hear I managed to capture the place I was trying to capture (as you so certainly did regarding Vegas).

  12. Richard Cox says:

    Simon, is there any sort of trading system? Like, if I agree to move to Australia and stay for five years, you can do the same here in the States? We should check that out. We could be VISA buddies.

  13. Erika says:

    Simon I too was fucked by the global financial crisis in my move to SF. However at that time I was interviewing for PR/Marketing jobs which never materialized so I stayed here and was lead into my new profession. Which in the long run was a win for me, being I now actually LOVE my job!
    As I’ve mentioned to you before SF is my destination as well and while I might not be thousands of miles away from it as you are I can empathize. Nonetheless Vegas has done right by me in so many ways (though many comments in Nathaniels post are very negative about my lovely city) that if I end up never leaving it I will be okay with it. I also have a weird feeling that once I move away from here I will be extremely homesick and begin to plot on a move back.

    Double edge sword I guess.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Did the GFC at least buy you a drink?

      I wonder if we ever interviewed for the same job?

      Funny how things work out, isn’t it? And I’m very glad to hear that Vegas is doing right by you – I wonder if that will be your permanent home?

  14. Angela Tung says:

    there’s something about walking down market street, isn’t there, when the sun is setting? i think it’s because it’s so wide and open, it has a hopeful feeling.

    then you get to jones and market and it’s hobo central!

    lovely piece. can’t wait to find out what happens next.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I think I want to marry Market Street just a little bit. Or maybe 18th, I’m not sure. I spent a hell of a lot of time on both.

      Thanks Angela! I hope SF is giving you as much as it gave me.

  15. Irene Zion says:

    Okay, I have this figured out.
    We all get together a bunch of unsavory Americans.
    We clean them up so they don’t look unsavory.
    We give them some change in their pockets and terrific references.
    We send them to Australia.
    Australia decides to keep them because they look so tidy and useful.
    America calls for you and sends you a ticket, first class, to San Francisco.
    America is happy.
    It pawned off a bunch of unsavories
    and exchanged them for the
    infectively funny

    (You can come visit us any time, you know.)

    • Simon Smithson says:

      The Indianapolis Colts?


      No, but seriously. I know less than nothing about the Super Bowl, except that briefly, it was all my Facebook feed could talk about.

      I love this plan. Let’s talk to America about it, pronto.

  16. Don Mitchell says:

    I heard a rumor that you and ZP might be heading for North America this year, and the phrase “road trip” was part of the rumor.

    Anything to it?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      It’s just possible that T-Pac will ride again… and not just through the streets of LA, where homeless men yell ‘I suck cock and eat raw meat, what do y’all do?!’ at us again.

      • Zara Potts says:

        You are definitely in the plan, Don!

        • I could definitely go another road-trip. Don’t go not letting me know about it.

          Zara – you don’t know me so should be understandably nervous about road-tripping with me. Simon – you know me better, and so should be understandably nervous about road-tripping with me. This thing takes Premium Unleaded, right?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Hey George – nice to meet you!
          Premium Unleaded all the way….

        • Simon Smithson says:

          London calling!

        • Hi Zara!


          Simon – you know you can’t actually roadtrip to London from Melbourne or Auckland right? I’d suggest we pick start and end-points on the same continent.

          I roadtripped in NZ once but I was neither driving nor navigating, so the majority of my memories don’t have place-names. Also, whenever I look at Auckland or Wellington on a map, they’re definitely not where they should be. But I’m sure Rotorua’s still a bit stinky.

        • Zara Potts says:

          George, it still stinks!

  17. D.R. Haney says:

    Were you, like, secretly taping that rendezvous at Chateau Marmont? Because I’d forgotten all about what I said, just as I’d forgotten about “I hate to be that actress who’s always running late,” though both came back in an instant on reading this.

    But I think what I said was in the context of a story about Belgrade, yes? Maybe not. But there’s a story about the lights on the street — oh, never mind.

    Meantime, I believe you’re projecting when you refer to me as “ever-debonair.” Though I’m, of course, extremely flattered that you would think to include me in this piece or any other, and that you actually took note of something I said, which I believe makes you one of a kind.

    As for SF, goodbyes are always a bitch, yes? But I’ll again resist temptation on the Serbian-story front. I think I’ve gone into one every time you’ve mentioned SF.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Secretly taping? No. But it’s logged and locked in my memory banks.

      If I remember correctly, you mentioned a light rain falling in Belgrade at the time? Hopefully I haven’t gotten this entirely wrong and undermined my own credibility as a source.

      We also spoke about eyes, the fickle nature of the mirror, the guy behind A Guide To Recognising Your Saints, and the House of Pies, as I recall.

      I can’t think of a single time I’ve enjoyed leaving America. So far, it’s 0 for 3.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        If you break your streak, I suppose it will be a mixed blessing.

        Your credibility is impeccable, so that the fact that rain wasn’t involved in the Belgrade story has no bearing. But you correctly identify the director of Saints, as you no doubt remember my embarrassing encounter with him. But what did we discuss about House of Pies, the pies or the House?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Jesus. Did we? Was I even there? I recall talking about the eyes but I don’t remember discussing House of Pies, and that was one of my favourite subjects. I must have been too busy coveting the furniture.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Hopefully Simon will soon enlighten us as to what was discussed re: House of Pieces. I’m wondering if I mentioned something about Ciao Manhattan, the Edie Sedgwick movie, a scene of which was shot at HOP.


        • Zara Potts says:

          Nope. I recall the Edie conversation and we had that before we went to HOP.
          I thought we talked about telephone poles.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Our HOP conversation, as usually, moved from how delighted I was with the pies to Zara’s opposite impression; and the fact that what we had was not a ‘traditional’ Key Lime Pie.

        • Zara Potts says:

          No telephone poles then? Did I imagine that we talked about that?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          That was earlier, I think, because I seem to remember pointing out telephone poles to you repeatedly during your week in town, since you kept insisting there were none.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I was fooled by an earlier visit to America – my youth and stupidity formed a potent, telephone-pole-less cocktail.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m assuming the brazen Freudian imagery was intentional, yes?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          My God, I never even thought of that before…

          But it makes complete and total sense.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Freud works in mysterious ways.

          I’ve become more and more a believer in Freud, incidentally. His theories were flawed, certainly, but there’s a great deal of truth in them, I think.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          A previous internet-friend (he was around on the same MySpace forum where I met Will and Sarah, incidentally) once made one of the most terrible jokes I’ve ever heard – ‘I’m a-Freud I’m not as Jung as I used to be.’

          THC could learn from that man.

          I actually don’t know that much about Freud. I’ve find myself growing more and more curious about the cognitive approach to psychology; it holds a lot of truth for me.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’ve looked into it. It’s a little too simple-minded, I think, but it all sounds right in theory. Freud never shied from the dark side, and that’s probably one of the many reasons he’s fallen by the wayside, another being that psychoanalysis almost never worked.

          As for the joke, I bet you laughed. C’mn, admit it. You know you can never resist a pun. Which would be my advice to any girl trying to win your heart: “Pun like crazy, and he’ll sweep you down the aisle!”

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I think I should add Freud to my ever-growing reading list – I’m always curious about knowing how people tick.

          I did laugh. I really did.

          I think I’d marry any girl who could out pun and/or portmanteau me. Although, maybe I’d be challenged too much by it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, jeez, always a complication.

          With Freud, I’d recommend, if I may, Civilization and Its Discontents. It’s very short, and I think in some ways it nicely sums up Freud’s philosophy — which is not to say that it sums up his nuts-and-bolts notions of the psyche.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I thrive on complications. It’s all I know.

          You certainly may – I’ll enter it into my Excel to-read list now.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          He’s a wonderful writer, by the way. Camille Paglia, an admirer, once said that the problem with Freud (or maybe more with those who misunderstand him) is that he wrote art that’s taken for science. But you’ll notice that he named many of the various syndromes, maladies, and so on, after Greek mythology. You won’t find that kind of poetry in the DSM-III.

        • I hate Freud – he can suck my dick. I mean, if I had one.
          Which is not to say that I want one, Freud.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I thought we were on the DSM-IV now? Now that homosexuality is not a mental disorder?

          Steph: Sometimes, a penis is just a penis.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I believe you’re right about the DSM-IV, but Steph would know for certain.

          I’d like to add that I admire Freud more as philosopher than I do as a psychologist — again, making that distinction.

        • So true, Simon!

          Yes we are on the DSM-IV. It’s actually what I’m studying right now for my psychopathology class – oh the fun on a Saturday night!

        • sorry we posted at the same time…

          Yeah Duke – philosophically he’s much more interesting. Psychologically, he’s kind of a dick.
          It’s all the mother’s fault. Like we need more blame.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ha. He was a big one for blaming mom. There’s a lot of hammer-and-chisel stuff in Freud, meaning that it’s so outdated. I may give him too much credit for being a pioneer.

        • It truly is outdated. But I agree that he opened the dialogue, so to speak. He started the discussion and alot of valuable things grew out of what he started. So, for that alone, it’s important to give him a props.

          Personally, I think he was just mad at his own mommie for weaning him too soon.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, it’s true that he was his own first subject, and there seems to be have been an assumption on his part that what occurred in his psyche held for all. Also, he was very dogmatic. I think dissenters in his circle were exiled, Stalin-style.

          I always thought it was funny that he acknowledged some sort of homosexual feeling for Jung, which I believe Jung acknowledged as reciprocal. Apparently, Freud once swooned in the company of Jung, who tenderly carried him to a nearby divan.

        • Zara Potts says:

          What happened to the telephone pole discussion? Can we go back to that please?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          One of the things I had noticed in SF was a distinct lack of telephone poles in the streets… maybe I was just not seeing what I didn’t want to see.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Zara Potts concurs.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I like how my comment about the comment left by Zara Potts — “How Freudian” — equally applies to Simon’s comment. (I didn’t refer to you, Simon, as Simon Smithson, although I can if you, like Zara, like seeing your name everywhere.)

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh! That comment was in fact for Zara Potts?
          That’s awesome. It worked out so well!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It was originally meant for Zara Potts, but, as stated, it could equally apply to Simon Smithson. Just to drive the point home to Zara Potts.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Zara Potts understands loud and clear. Zara Potts is laughing out loud. Zara Potts wonders when D.R. Haney will get sick of referring to Zara Potts as Zara Potts and whether Zara Potts’s obsession with referring to herself in third person will drive D.R Haney to become an outlaw, thus trumping Zara Potts’s desire to see her name on a WANTED poster.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          But how, Zara Potts, would that trump Zara Potts’ desire to see “Zara Potts” on a WANTED poster?

        • Zara Potts says:

          I give up. I’m going back to me.
          Being Zara Potts is just too confusing.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          But you are Zara Potts. Or are you saying that your name is “Me” now? Is that what you mean, Me?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yes, me.
          Me Potts.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, okay. And will you be wishing to see “Me Potts” on a lot of posts? Because that can arranged.

        • Zara Potts says:

          You can arrange this? That would be awesome.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, already there are many posts with “me” in them. Most, in fact.

        • Zara Potts says:

          You? or Me?
          You, I suspect. You are a very popular ‘me.’

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I have just seen a drop in my popularity. However, I will one day bounce back.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          You’re even more popular with my dad, Duke – during his convalescence, he has picked up Banned for Life.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, as one who’s had a lengthy convalescence, I know that literary companionship is much appreciated, but I do hope BFL proves to be the right choice for your dad. I’d hate for you to be called to his bedside and have him say: “Who wrote this rubbish? And you spent time with this individual in California?! You are disinherited, forthwith!”

  18. Simone says:

    “Memory is way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” ~ Kevin Arnold

    I could sense in this peice that you strongly hold onto all that there was in SF for you. Yesterday when I read this, I had goosebumps and a slight tear in my eye because it’s a great post but melancholic somehow.

    What happens now, indeed? Whatever the future may hold for you Simon, I know that in your heart of hearts you’ll find your way back to the place that makes you feel most at home.

  19. I think TNB’ers need to pool some money together to get you back here, Simon. Not sure what you’ll have to do for us in return. More than likely just be yourself. That’s definitely payment enough.

  20. zoe b says:

    the spare bed is all made up and ready for you, kid. x

  21. Paul Clayton says:

    Simon, sorry to hear that things didn’t work out for you. I moved here in 82, I think it was, when California almost slipped into the sea it was raining so much. I blew all the money I’d brought trying to find a gig in SF. When I looked further south, Belmont, things clicked. Yes, SF is a beautiful place. Well, at least thanks to the internet you can still be a part of TNB. Thanks for all your encouraging comments.
    The grouchy old guy.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks, Paul – I appreciate it. And, you know, everything happens for a reason – or at least, that’s what they tell me. Maybe I should have tried Belmont – we could be having coffee right now!

      Take it easy, grouchy old guy.

  22. kristen says:

    Nice, S. Love this–

    “And for no reason I could think of (my meeting Duke was still some months away), I thought You should remember this.”

    Brings to mind one of Listi’s recent posts, concept of certain things just sticking, reason(s) not always known…

  23. […] this picture was snapped shortly after our visit to Chateau Marmont, which he mentioned in a recent post. It certainly wasn’t taken at Chateau […]

  24. Joe Daly says:

    Wow. I was not ready for this. A truly amazing piece that evoked far more emotion than my under-caffeinated mind was ready to experience. Thanks for the beauty and the honesty you’ve shared.

    The great comfort is that wherever your travels take you, you won’t ever need to wonder what else you might have done to stay. Not sure if you believe in fate, but it would seem that you are destined to experience something else for awhile. I for one, look forward to reading about it.

    This piece hit home because it was the end of the summer in 1998 that I had to leave Stockholm under similar circumstances. I couldn’t work until my Irish passport showed up, and finally, my savings ran out before it arrived. The last day of walking around the city, packing up my things, and going to the airport, I remember looking around at all the Swedes and ruefully thinking, “I wonder if they know how lucky they are to be here.” Sounds like your experiences were much the same.

    Good luck, keep writing, and get on back here soon.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks Joe! I’m sorry to hit an under-caffeinated mind unawares.

      Yeah, regardless of where I’m at, there are parts of that journey I’ll take with me. I’m sorry to hear about your Stockholm Syndrome; travel’s such a bitch like that.

      Thanks again, and shall do.

  25. Oh Simon– longing for a place can be almost as heartbreaking as longing for a person. You captured this beautifully.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks, Robin! Goddamn heartbreak. Terrible thing.

      Earlier in the week I wrote about a mysterious text I’d received from an SF number. Some have suggested it is the city itself, calling me home.

      And/or making a booty call.

  26. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    Simon, this is fantastic! The images are spot-on, hilarious and resonant. I should mention: one of those three San Francisco drag queens who swooned over your Aussie accent might’ve been my Uncle John. (Seriously.) The economic crisis has certainly been a dramatic fate for a whole lot of us. I hope yours turns up a nice surprise. From what I’ve heard, we Americans should be very jealous of your beaches. Cheers!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks, Lisa! Tell your Uncle John I say hi.

      Yeah, things went pretty pear-shaped as a result of that GFC. I hope mine turns up a nice surprise too.

      Bondi Beach is nice. So is Bell’s. And Torquay, and Sorento, and Portsea… come stay sometime!

  27. […] His heart is in San Francisco.  No, really; it is. […]

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