Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Notes on Our Road Trip

The Big Cuter and I were together for 7 days. Almost immediately, we were in a comfortable rhythm of eating and driving and sleeping and packing and loading and doing it all over again. From the desert Southwest through LA and up the Central Valley to Marin and San Francisco we watched as both the landscape and his life began to change.

We saw an overturned mobile home, whose sides had separated from the base and which was spewing pink insulation all over I-10. The two 60-something be-hatted women beside it were an unlikely pair to be driving the shiny F-150 which was attached to the toppled home, but there they were, standing on the side of the road as traffic inched by and sighed for them.

Aside from that delay, we had smooth sailing and excellent weather. We ate at In-n-Out Burger which was a treat for his East Coast palate and I failed, once again, to take a proper picture of the Welcome to California sign. People still don't understand how to merge onto 580, and their need to slow down to 5 mph while doing nothing but going up a protected on-ramp still fuels my road rage, but my Fast-Trak worked in his car so we were able to use the special lanes and zip through the toll booths without stopping. And then, across the bay, we saw the two eucalyptus trees that marked the edge of the property line for our big house and we smiled. Big, fat, self-satisfied, happy to be there right then with each other smiles.

We stayed in Marin the first two nights, easing ourselves into the scene. LA was a good buffer between Tucson and Marin; the startling differences between my last two homes actually revealed themselves more fully once I got back to the desert. There in Marin, driving past San Quentin, seeing the hills above Terra Linda in the late afternoon sun, negotiating the Costco parking lot, walking to the open air mall for local beers with dinner, I remembered all the reasons I'd loved living there. The comfortable sense of being in the best place on earth, surrounded by softly rolling green hills and well-mannered fellow citizens is unreal when compared to anywhere else. And it feels great.

(Beaver Cleaver still lives there, I'm sure. For a while, in fact, we thought he lived down the street from us. Of course, that was our first summer, when going outside without an adult was a first time experience for the Cuters.)

I was in the place the Cuters call home and the Big Cuter was explaining just which beer I'd like the most, given what I had said about pale ale in the past. There was a tall, good-looking, well-spoken man sitting across the table and he was the same little boy with the scar on his knee and the long curly hair who'd asked for permission to ride his bike alone to the park if he finished his homework first. The bookstore across the way had gone out of business (A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books....... isn't that a great name?) and the yogurt store was gone, too, but I had no trouble conjuring up memories. He was moving on, and I was there to watch.

Driving to his apartment in San Francisco, the GPS lady kept wanting us to turn left off Market Street. The street signs suggested otherwise. Her constant need to inform us that she was re-calculating was only slightly less annoying than seeing the damn garage entrance but being unable to turn into it. But the garage guys were quick and efficient and funny and friendly and so was the rental agent who'd had the building pay for the electricity while the Big Cuter was travelling so that he didn't have to go through the hassle of turning it on himself. Doors were held for us as we carted in our treasures, people said Hello in the elevator.

Kindness from strangers; we knew we were back in California.

1 comment:

  1. A photo in your article! I LOVE IT!!! This might be one of my favorite posts so far :). very nicely captured.


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