Christopher Neugebauer CC
San Francisco Story
When I was a drugstore redhead with a pixie haircut. When we lived in San Francisco. When my jaw still sliced at my youthful neck, hinting at my mid country Irish DNA, and ended in a strong Celtic chin that jutted forward to order scotch neat and ask for matches. When we were newly married, newly transplanted, newly formed, newly adulted. When cribs and strollers and onesies and plush toys did not yet take up space our apartment. When my parents were still married. When his mother was still alive. When I swept my brow bone with shimmery eyeshadow, and wore head-to-toe black in secret mourning for my hometown of New York City, which I ached for in the midst of hilly streets, gingerbread Victorians and wineries. When we slept until 9 am on the weekends, and read the Sunday Times all day if we liked. When I ran a fast mile, and didn’t need to stretch afterwards. When I hadn’t found my voice yet, hadn’t strengthened the muscle, but still wrote in notebooks and on scraps of paper. When I still thought of myself as a daughter first, and a wife second. When I experienced my first earthquake in a sixth-floor apartment on Lombard Street. When I drank too much wine alone at night, after he went to bed. When I had a dresser drawer full of lingerie, and donned it each night before nestling beside him, quietly pleading with him in silks and satins to roll over and notice, even though he had to leave for work at 3:30 am. When I felt so alive and so alone, as Japanese tourists brushed past me in Golden Gate Park. When I drove visitors past the Grateful Dead house at least twice a month. When I started to consider myself. When I wasn’t afraid of flying yet. When I realized that he was in this for life, and that I was, too. When the World Trade Center still stood at the center of the world. When I’d go to to the estate sales of young, dead gay men and cry in my car afterwards. When I felt guilty for leaving home, and for living in the city that my parents had wanted to relocate to when they were first married — but couldn’t. When I thought I could control things. When I held on so tightly, until my hands ached and the white of my bones showed through the skin. When I was younger, and someone else entirely.
Kathleen McKitty Harris is a fifth-generation native New Yorker whose work has appeared in Longreads, Sonora Review, Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney's, and The Rumpus, among others. Her essay, “A Timeline of Human Female Development,” appears in the anthology MY BODY, MY WORDS (Big Table Publishing 2018). She has also performed as a storyteller at The Moth in New York City, and is the co-host of the “What's Your Story?” live-reading series in northern New Jersey, where she lives with her husband, two children, and irredeemable dog.
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