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On Running Into Ex-Boyfriends, Coming Full Circle, and How San Francisco is My Crack and My Kryptonite


I don't drink alcohol or eat meat or sugar or sugar doused in alcohol. Until I visit San Francisco. Then I eat all of the above, chased with half a bottle of port and a pint of Three Twins ice cream. One of the reasons I moved to LA was to develop healthy habits. I absolutely don't have the self-discipline to completely shift the momentum of ten years - and my social life - without major change. It's hard to give up eating and drinking delicious things when you spend six nights a week eating and drinking delicious things. So I drove six hours south and set up camp.

But then I come back to visit all the people with whom I did all that eating and drinking.

I always start with the best of intentions, intentions that begin evaporating as soon as my wheels hit the Bay Bridge. By Sunday night, I'm eating rare roast and sitting on the couch surrounded by friends and three empty bottles of wine and one empty bottle of port, stomach hurting from laughing, and wondering why I ever left, because surely health isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Then I wake up the next morning and wonder why my heart is racing and why my tongue feels like a corn husk and who gave the brain hamsters jackhammers.

San Francisco is my crack and my kryptonite and abandoning myself to both like a junkie locked in a hospital supply closet is totally worth it.

Another Reason I Left San Francisco

San Francisco is full of ghosts. Ghosts of past relationships, ghosts that are less ghosts and more totally alive and walking around the same neighborhoods I am. This is rarely a problem - one of my superpowers is never running into exes. I mentally send them off to the Island of Lost Men and, conveniently, there they tend to stay.

But occasionally one strays.

And, occasionally, I'll be helping a friend find a new apartment - where helping = twirling my yellow hat on my finger and suggesting we ditch the hunt and go eat burritos - and end up accidentally across the street from the house where I lived with an ex as said ex is pulling out of his driveway while I stand there staring. After seeing him half an hour earlier in the park and now it totally looks like I'm stalking him.

Note to self: If you ever do decide to legitimately stalk someone, don't wear a purple puffy jacket and a yellow hat. Because 1) you're totally proving your brother right when he claims your sartorial sense is best described as colorblind clown and 2) YOU REALLY STICK OUT. ESPECIALLY WITH ALL THE GAPING AND HAT TWIRLING.

I bring this up because this particular ex once accused me of being too sensitive. Fair enough, I accuse myself of being too sensitive all the time. But if you want any tips on how to have the most useless fight in the history of the world, try berating an overly sensitive person about being overly sensitive. Go on. See how happy that makes everyone.

In sheer self-defense, I said there were good things about being sensitive. When he asked what, exactly, those things were, I didn't have an answer.

I continued not having an answer for about six years.

This weekend, as I watched him walk away, I realized I had my answer.

Why It's Good to Be Sensitive

Emotions are a powerful guide, once you learn how to interpret them properly. Learning your feelings is like learning another language, one they don't teach in school. But once you slog through the new syntax and past participles and random punctuation, you start to understand how you operate. Your feelings are your instruction manual.

Feelings always have something important to tell you. Maybe you need to set a boundary. Or be kinder to yourself. Or be kinder to someone else. Maybe you need to apologize or tell someone you love them. Maybe you need a nap.

Emotions point the way to your most profound to-do list. They gently take you by the shoulders and turn you toward something you need, a need you may not consciously know you have. Learning to interpret your emotions can dramatically alter your life.

Being sensitive and feeling a lot of feelings means you get a whole lot of guidance, guidance that leads you to a better place.

It took me half a decade, but I finally have an answer. My sensitivity is a guide. The more I learn to follow it, the faster it takes me to a good place. To a happy place. To a place where I can show up fully for myself and others.

I would have chased down my ex to tell him this, but that seemed like a lot of work. And I had friends to see and yoga to do and burritos to eat and yellow hats to twirl.

One more ghost, laid to rest.