There was a time last year where I was doing a reverse commute. As a compromise to my paternity leave (which is 6 weeks long whereas an academic quarter is 10 weeks) I was allowed to come into work at night and on the weekends to tutor students in our writing center. Whereas I usually take buses and trains to get down to Palo Alto from SF (resulting in a 2hr commute each way; the topic of another post perhaps) in these instances I’d drive and make it down in 45min or less.
Especially in the waning daylight weeks of November and December I’d drive down the 280 alongside the San Andreas Fault listening to new Arcade Fire with the windows open. It was, for all intents and purposes, my first foray back into the adult, public world since my daughter was born in June. I was working. I was doing what I have been trained to do. And I was alone. Gloriously alone, at least for that commute where I was doing 80 on the right while the traffic to my left crawled back to the city.
What was most fascinating to me was that as I drove closer to campus, down Sand Hill Rd., the leaves on the giant oaks and smaller sweetgums had all begun to change. Instead of the green I had last seen in August, they were now all red, orange, and yellow. It was as if the seasons had changed without notifying me. It dawned on me that I had been cloistered in San Francisco, emerging every day to take my daughter for walks, but never seeing the evidence of the world continuing to move on. In hindsight I suppose it was idyllic, but as I drove down this stretch of suburbia each night it felt like I had missed out on something significant.
There are a lot of mixed feelings about Future Islands, and I share all of them, too. This latest LP is for fans of mid-80s art rock (again with the 80s), alternative to the power pop of the day before things like “alternative” even existed. But I’m a fan of this mid-career David Bowie and Roxy Music sound so this feels like home to me. Like a late morning radio show in 1983, on as I pulled the vacuum cleaner across thick carpet.
Sometimes time is relative. Sometimes it waits for us. Sometimes it doesn’t.