I went down to the Bay Area this weekend because...
I grew up down there.
My oldest friend was throwing a birthday party for her husband at a dive bar/dry boat dock along the Bay, and it sounded like so much fun.
I thought I'd like to give my friend's husband a jar of my newest batch of kimchi since it's pretty amazing and full of life energy.
I needed a few days away from the laundry pile here.
D and I kept trying to plan a time when we could go down there, but the plans kept turning into a circus when all I really wanted to do was put some old, personal memories to rest and give my dear friend a hug.
So I went down there to crash my friend's party. I didn't tell her because I didn't want to add any more stress to her weekend. I booked a hotel near her house for Saturday and decided to wing it the rest of my trip.
I drove from near Portland to near San Jose in only 11 hours on Friday.
The next morning I walked six and a half miles around the town in which I grew up. I went to look at the old house. I mean... I walked to my childhood house from downtown. This was really important. I got to see it all slowly and smell the plants as they began to heat up in the morning sun. I saw deer, birds, oranges and lemons on trees, plums, Acacia pods all over the ground, Eucalyptus trees more than ten feet around at the base. I saw again the shape of the foothills surrounding the house -- comforting, approachable, but mysterious, too. I'm sure I'll go back and show E someday, but I was able to say goodbye to that old homestead with some fondness.
It was wonderful to see my old friend P. She looks great. She was surprised, and I was nervous for a minute, but -- after all this time -- it always feels very natural to be around her. She has a nice family and nice friends.
Yesterday morning I had a chance to wander around Berkeley for two or three hours before I headed home. I hadn't been in Berkeley since the late 80's but went to school there in the early part of that decade. It was good to sit there across from Kroeber Hall and have a cappuccino. I wouldn't have ordered that because I don't like to drink those anymore, but it seemed appropriate for the moment. I went by the four places where I lived. It all looked pretty much the same after all this time because things don't change that much close to a big campus like that. Student co-op living spaces always have bikes out front. Faculty and administration buildings always look tidy and mature. I recognized several bearded Berkeley street stalwarts on Telegraph and near Euclid Avenue. (I used to think these people were homeless, but since I recognized them twenty-something years later, and they're still *in place,* I now will assume that I saw them in or near their homes.)
On the way home, the radio empowered me with great bluegrass music and two fantastic public radio programs: Fragility and the Evolution of Our Humanity on Speaking of Faith and To the Best of Our Knowledge's show on Fairy Tales. Wow. I just felt on fire from it all and kept driving and made it home by 9:00 pm.
It was nice to come home. D and E cleaned up the chaos before I got here. It was nice to stop going 80-miles an hour. I spent this morning in my own garden and felt glad for "here" and "there" and "now." I also have renewed appreciation for how far I've come from "then."