Darkness has trickled in over the hills across the runway and I’m left wondering whether I’m running away from a city once again. This time it’s San Francisco. And this time it’s in December.

I remember only a few months ago returning to SF from a short holiday — hands and legs all curled up around anothers’. I remember the extraordinary sensation of watching San Francisco rear into view beneath us in the dark and for the briefest of moments I was happy because we were home.

But this time there’s no anger in my leaving, and there’s no despair. The city of San Francisco doesn’t frighten me like the last time I abandoned America at full speed. Instead, this time it’s far more complicated. There’s a newfound temptation for self harm, for self destruction, for leaving and never coming back. Forget the last six months and forget the next two years of the visa. Abandon, and forget.

The odd thing is that I don’t want to be in San Francisco but alternatively I don’t ever want to leave. Leaving is somehow an admonition of defeat. It feels like I’m sweeping away all the brief and beautiful memories, ignoring everything that happened.

It hurts because I’m leaving a foreign place and yet I’m inbound for another, the home that I grew up in. And now I wonder what it feels like to have a city that you can reliably call home. A place you can see yourself living in for the rest of your life. Consequently, whenever I hear people cheering for their city with pride then an unfamiliar, sharp pang of jealousy tears through me.

For the first time in six months I don’t want to sit still. Traveling hurts but I want to keep moving, and I especially want to keep typing. Because in the typing there’s a form of escape that doesn’t require me to leave.