Paula grumbled as she trudged down the apartment stairs to the building’s laundry room. As much as she loved her two-bedroom apartment with full on views of the San Francisco Bay from every room, she didn’t appreciate the shared laundry space. Continue reading
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.
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…
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.
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…
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,