March 24th, 2013, 10pm in Palo Alto, United States
I get emotional when I leave places — rooms, apartments, houses, countries. Whenever I leave my apartment in Japan, despite knowing well enough that I'll be back soon, I can't help but turn to the tiny room and say thanks, bowing slightly in the doorway, bags in hand.
So it shocked me that when I left the little house in Palo Alto — the place I called home for two and half years — I felt nothing. Not one tinge of sadness or nostalgia. The day I decided to move out was just like any other. See ya.
It's not to say I didn't respect the place — it was good and pragmatic and instrumented a major shift in my life. One in which I left behind my full-time Japanese expatriotism for startups. But it strangely never felt like a home.
I was lucky enough to share the house with two men who, from afar, sound laughably Californian: vegetarian, non-drinking, morning meditating, yoga following, but who turned out to be two of the most inspiring and hard working people I know. There wasn't a single night I came home to boys being boys — there was no lazy in this house. Each evening, no matter how late, I walked into a dinning room with two men hunched over laptops working on a documentary film or startup investments. So, yes, vegetarian, non-drinking, morning meditating, yoga following men. But also men with shrewd business sense and artistic drive. I'd like to think we all understood the need to balance spiritual disconnection with material doing and I was grateful to see that balance played out daily.
We left the living room open — completely — and on occasion it would fill with yoga mats or meditating strangers but mainly it was bare, not unlike that famous Steve Jobs photo of him atop a cushion with a Tiffany lamp in the background. I know that floor. I know that bareness. I threw kettle bells around atop it.
I think back on those two and a half years and while the house was never a true home — none of us planned on staying forever — it did support us. Looking back it's now evident we were all in transition. It brought us together in ways that fostered inspiration (all three of us now adventuring paths we may not have chosen to explore had we not been mutual therapists and advisors) and by the end, when none of us really lived there any longer, I think it was clear to us all that the structure has served its purpose.
Still, even though I felt little nostalgia for the place I thought we should attempt to say goodbye. To say thanks.
So on our final night, the night pictured above, we all returned — each now with homes elsewhere, some in cities elsewhere. We set a small tea table in the middle of that bare living room, lit an early spring fire, and spent a few hours drinking and thanking the house and one another and then saying finally, properly, goodbye.