A half hour after I land in San Francisco, I’m sitting on my brother’s couch watching my niece in her swing. She’s almost three months old and she doesn’t like to be held. If you pick her up, she generally responds by wailing dramatically until you put her down. And then the waterworks stop instantly and she is smiling, happy, looking around. It’s mildly annoying because nobody wants to sit and look at a baby. I’m hoping she’ll grow out of it by Christmas.
So I am sitting and looking at a baby when the first pulses hit. Optical migraines are one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. This is what they look like: a jagged ring of light that starts out small and contained and spreads out to obstruct your entire field of vision. They last for twenty or thirty minutes and they’re painless. Just annoying, because afterward everything is blurry for hours and you can’t finish the Tahereh Mafi book you’ve been so far devouring.
I sit and look at the baby and she is ringed in lightning flashes and white halos.
A week before this I had a few drinks over the course of a three-hour dinner and woke up the next morning profoundly nauseous, the kind of stomach unrest that lasts the entire day and into the evening and follows you even when you try and go to sleep. And so I think maybe my ulcer is back because one of its less endearing qualities is that it makes me extremely intolerant to alcohol. And also each day I wake up starving, like I haven’t eaten in years.
On Sunday we drive to Mount Tamalpais, up winding roads that snake and slither and twist and turn until, in the backseat, I am one switchback away from throwing up. When we park I walk to the bathroom, that extra saliva in the back of my mouth that signifies I am about to lose it. It helped that the air was so cold and slicing through my borrowed fleece.
So I spend the whole weekend in San Francisco in a moderate state of discomfort. But Saturday night I took a bath in a claw-footed bathtub and used a bath bomb that turned the water a deep shade of sparkly blue and I made the water too hot and I kept sliding underneath because my feet couldn’t reach the other side and that was nice. Like sometimes I just want things too hot and too deep and too blue. My skin red and warm and nobody bothering me until they hear the water draining.
photographs taken in Mount Tamalpais State Park