Ever since I can remember, San Francisco has called to me. I can't remember how it started, but I know I was obsessed with Hitchcock's Vertigo when I was about 14, and watched it repeatedly. I'd always promised myself that if I ever travelled to the US, San Francisco would be one of the first cities I'd see... along with New York and New Orleans.
So far, I haven't been to any of those cities yet. Just LA, Portland and - a decade ago - Seattle.
Los Angeles had never actually held any appeal to me, and yet here I am. Go figure. That's the beauty of life, I suppose. You never know for sure what's around the corner.
Anyhow. Not long ago, J came up with the brilliant idea of a weekend in San Francisco. He thought I should fly up and have a weekend to myself there, as a bit of time out - for me.
I loved the idea, and got excited right away. Footloose and fancy free! Just myself for an afternoon, night, and morning - brilliant! I looked up flights, read up on accommodation... and then began to worry. Not about me, though. I can travel alone at the drop of a hat - I backpacked around various non-English speaking countries back in the day, so less than two days alone in an American city? Piece of cake.
My main concern was that I'm still breastfeeding Miss Pie, and don't plan to wean her just yet (like with her sister, I was planning to at about 18 months). Although it's only a couple of times a day, and she sleeps through the night, I started to fret about what may happen if I'm away for 36 hours. Yeah, sure, I hear you say, pack a breast pump for relief. I just detest that thing, though, and haven't used it in many, many months. I haven't exactly had a need.
My other main issue was that stupidly useless feeling, guilt. Making memories for myself in a fun city, without my loved ones around. Sometimes it's nice to look back on shared memories of places. Guilt, also, about money. We've had to really tighten the belt lately, and it almost seems selfish to spend money on flights and a hotel, just for me.
After a bit of negotiation with J about driving freeways (the thought scares me silly), we decided to plan a road trip instead, and for him to take a couple of days off work so we could have an extended weekend in San Francisco. The pros? No worries about my boobs or accidental weaning, we could all be together, and it would be easier to get around some parts of San Francisco with a car - making it possible to include some redwood forests on the itinerary. I grabbed a copy of Lonely Planet's San Francisco and read, read, read.
Then life got in the way for a couple of weeks. More immediate matters needed to be taken care of, and San Francisco plans got put on the back burner.
Until last night. I watched a film I'd vaguely promised myself I wouldn't (after hearing mixed reviews from friends). Let's just say the film's plot involves a Western woman travelling alone to rediscover herself. This film was available for streaming on Netflix, it was Friday night, I was in the mood for something frothy to watch, and J assured me he wouldn't grow a man-gina if we watched it together... and yep, the self-absorbed clichés and foreign stereotypes abounded.
However, the scenery was stunning and it got me thinking about travelling again. I envied this woman, so free. I began wishing I was going alone to San Francisco alone, after all. Trips alone to do the grocery shopping just aren't cutting it for me any more. Then today, J asked me if I still wanted to go to San Francisco on a road trip, or alone. I couldn't answer him. Pathetic, huh?
I've realised that the recent devastation in Japan has me somewhat anxious about a major earthquake happening here, and being separated from my family. Not being able to protect them, or get to them. The stuff that people lose sleep over. I need to get a grip.
I know that - alone or with my people - it'll be wonderful to see the Golden Gate Bridge, walk through Chinatown, ride a tram down one of those hair-raising hills... I just wish I could decide, once and for all, how to go about it.