The city sparkles after a rain storm, so if you have a chance, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, around noon, when a Pacific Ocean storm has just blown through the Gate, Marin County, and the mountains beyond with gale force winds and driving, ravenous rain.
By 9 a.m., after a noisy storm-riddled night, the air is clear and fresh; white and gray puffy clouds dot the sky. Some thunder tries to roll over Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo, but then it sighs slowly, giving in to springtime optimism.
Like me, flying out of the office at noon and racing over the Golden Gate Bridge to meet my 30-year-old son, once my ‘hard child,’ as hard as sleet on soft green grass.
Sometimes he mowed me down when he was a child and teenager, with his sharp edges and relentless questions. “Why can’t I play paint ball on a school day?” “Why do we have to stay home during school vacation?” “Why do I have to study when I get good grades anyway?” “Why do you always say NO?”
Soft grass was I back then, roughening to a weed-like texture with his bombardment of whys.
So why, now, am I soaring over the San Francisco Bay in anticipation of meeting that same son for lunch?
The day brightens with every mile I travel; the city looms ahead like a white Oz, all new and gleaming and magical. The streets stretch smoothly ahead of me, leading me down Lombard, up Van Ness, over Broadway, and then right on the Embarcadero.
My son calls three times, checking on my progress, assuring himself that I’m coming, that Marin County hasn’t gobbled me up in my activities of work and walking, writing and wearing out by mid-afternoon.
No, No, I insist through my handless cell phone speaker. “I’m on Front Street; I’m parking; I’m walking toward you…”
And my ‘hard’ child, the one who has loved me like an old man loves his 80-year-old wife, the son who charmed me with flowers when he was 10 while I was still gritting my teeth over his demands – that son now waits for me with a trimmed beard highlighting his welcoming smile, his dimple hidden by the thick brown hair, his lips touching my cheek lightly, softly, as he whispers,