Bench Review and Reflection

reflections, new year's thoughts, San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge

Truly, madly, and a bit guilty, I sit on one of my favorite benches and ponder the fates and furies that have followed me over the year.

heartburn, Nora EphronAlthough I faithfully follow a life of joy, I’m nobody’s fool. Some days give me heartburn, as if I’ve just swallowed vinegar. Some days I wonder if god is in ruins, even when the nights are tender. Sometimes I feel like a distinguished guest in my own home, but then, suddenly…. Continue reading

Tunnel Vision

Golden Gate Bridge, San FranciscoI make it through the six-hour flight from Boston to LA. I endure the two-hour wait at LAX, a sprawling compound of too many high-stressed, higher ego-ed people, and then the hour hop to SFO.

I hold my breath, remember to release it as we wait, and wait, and wait for our baggage, which finally rolls around the moving horseshoe 45 minutes after we’ve landed.

Our driver, as roly poly as a malt ball, leads us to his small sedan. I fall back in the car seat, my guy’s briefcase sitting like a rock between us as we speed away from the airport and toward the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County, and freedom from motion once our front door is reached.

But no, instead the car idles in stop and go, bumper-to-bumper malaise on 19th Avenue. On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, thousands and thousands of Bay Area lovers are traveling – somewhere – and are stuck instead on a concrete highway to nowhere.

San Francisco, 19th Avenue, Golden Gate Bridge, traffic

I look out the window at tiny duplexes, the commercial shops selling rubber tires and plastic flowers, the newly sprouted garden lots and dingy gas stations, and I think… uh oh.

A hundred yards from the MacArthur tunnel (the big dark hole we have to drive through to get nearer to the Golden Gate Bridge), I exclaim, loudly yet unintentionally, “Okay, I have to get OUT of here!!”

My guy’s startled glance helps me realize that I sound a bit – crazy? – and the eyes of the front-seat malt ball get rounder and bigger as he stares at me through his rearview mirror.

I open my window – car fumes, anyone? – and pray we don’t stop inside that tunnel. I could lose it – like an inmate too long in her cell. I could kick open the door and run away from the dark dangerous hole of a tunnel toward – what? Would there be light at the end of my tunnel? Or would there be…

MacArthur Tunnel, San Francisco, traffic, Golden Gate Bridge

Something is tapping my knee. Softly at first, then more insistently.

I open my eyes (not realizing they had been squeezed tightly shut) and reach for the item my guy is handing me. His cell phone? With a cord attached to it?

Oh, ear plugs.

Wordlessly, he motions for me to put the ear pieces on. I do, reluctantly. What bad news am I going to hear? The traffic report, for God’s sake?classical  music, music, driving, tunnel, claustrophobia

But no, I hear flute and cello, violin and piano, harmonizing the sounds of angels singing. The music wafts into my brain and my body and my heart. Sweet soulful sounds symbolizing life on the other side of the highways and small cars and tunnels. Life full of green grass, blue skies, puffy clouds, birds soaring, lovers hugging, children laughing. joy trumpeting.

The car stops. My guy reaches for his phone and turns off his app to KDFC, the classical station, because…

            We

                        Are

                                    Home.

Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County

A Plant Well Loved

baby ficus, plant, mournIs it strange to mourn a plant?

Benji had been a mere babe when we brought him to our California home back in the ‘80s, a vibrant lush green Ficus, about 2 feet high and 1 foot wide. Then, for 16 years he savored his spot in the sunny corner of our dining room.

Until suddenly, we needed to move to the other coast, and Benji wasn’t invited. No moving company would guarantee the safety of a now almost 5 foot by 5 foot splendid plant.

“I won’t go without Benji,” I declared.

So we packed him in a wardrobe box for the move, and as we unfurled the plant two weeks later in the sunny spot made just for him in our new, New England home, I heard him sigh, long and happy.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

He breathed in the oxygen and gave it out, growing in his big corner. The piano sat on one end, solid and staid, while Benji stretched and grew on his end, filling up the large ‘Great Room’ as the Yankees call it.

Great Room, Ficus, sunnny room, loveWhen guests walked into the spacious room with high ceilings, tall windows, a masculine brick fireplace highlighted by built-in bookcases, all they noticed at first was Benji. Not the wood floors or Oriental rug or ivory couches or glass-topped tables.

Just Benji.

For 10 more years Benji thrived, and at 6 foot tall, he owned the room like a king on his throne.

Until it was time for us to move again, and this time, the law dictated that no plant could be transported to the west coast.

No friends or relatives or even strangers would take Benji – he was too big. But the new residents of our New England home agreed to keep him.

I left instructions: water once a week, not too much and not too little. Let him soak in the light. Talk to him. Enjoy him.

Half a year later, I returned to our past, to the house in New England, and to Benji. I peeked into the Great Room, and saw the wood floors and the bookcases and the fireplace, but no Benji.

Ah, there he was, just a ghost of himself, down to 4 feet by 2, wispy, yellow.

Pathetic.

And I cried for our beloved plant,

Who no longer owned the room.

Like a child not well loved, or a pet kept outdoors, or a spouse ignored, Benji gave up. I felt silly, feeling so sad about this dying plant, but really…

Wouldn’t you?

Benji

[Ficus benjamina, commonly known as the Weeping Fig, Benjamin’s Fig, or the Ficus Tree and often sold in stores as just a “Ficus”, is a species of fig tree, native to south and southeast Asia and Australia.]