Once again I write into a Word document. Technology gods do not favor me this week. From dying cell phones to a recalcitrant laptop, I’ve been forced – for hours, nay days — to keep my own company.
Yet I fare well.
I drove to San Rafael yesterday to be the lunch guest of Rotarian Jim Carriere, on the strength of an introduction from a KC Rotarian, Jeff Deatherage. I found the bank of which he is the COO with ease, following his direction, my phone’s GPS, and the strength of instinct. I had cautioned him that I might look like an interloper in my fire-engine red dress and wild hair. I later asked if he had recognized me from the color of my attire. No, he admitted, adding, it was the hair.
Which, truth told, is also fire-engine red at the moment, at least three or four inches of it, though with less intention on my part than my choice of yesterday’s attire. But I’m not complaining. In this instance, clown-red looks better than an inch of solid grey against a highlighted brown/blonde.
Conversation over mushroom-eggplant soup and tri-fungii pasta ranged from Shelterbox to our sons (each with one) to his wife to the Rotary Clubs in the area. Nearly two hours flew by, while strangers with more in common than not became acquainted. When he walked me to my car, he bent his frame down to bestow a gentle hug instead of taking my offered hand. Such is the power of connection, in this case through our shared dedication to service above self.
He asked, where to now? and I answered, what happens if I turn right at the road instead of left?
An hour and a half later, I reached Point Reyes lighthouse, on my Pacific ocean, at the edge of northwestern Marin County, California.
As I approached the lighthouse point, signs disappointed me: Thursday was not one of its open days. But I resolved to continue and see what I could see. I did not require it to be open; I only needed it to be there, and on the ocean, and available to me.
When I reached the lighthouse in 3.4 miles point, I realized that if I had a flat tire, I would find myself waiting a very long time for AAA. I came through cattle crossings, though; and spots at which the road dwindled to a stretch of broken blacktop coursing through ranches. I saw ATVs and told myself that unless I injured myself falling off the “hazard cliffs – no hiking allowed” , I most likely would be able to get help.
Cattle eyed me with little interest. But at one point, I looked to my right, and beheld my beloved sea.
The last stretch of roadway to the parking lot could have been in any deserted land. Finally, the grounds of the park above the lighthouse came into view. True to the warnings, a gate stretched across the road which I later determined would have taken me down to the lighthouse itself.
I parked my orange rental Fiat and got out. I assessed the situation and determined that I faced walking if I wanted to gaze at the ocean or spot the lighthouse. I wore leggings, an orange Henley dress, my new Allegria flowered shoes, and a bright red Forever 21 jacket which I bought second hand for $6.00. I debated; could I walk in this outfit on rough, unpaved surfaces? How ridiculous would I look?
I answered: First of all, young lady, you did not drive all this way to bail at the last moment. Second of all, fabric is fabric. It covers you; it keeps you warm. What difference that the maker sewed it into leggings instead of sweatpants? And thirdly: You do look ridiculous. So get walking.
To my left, a fairly decent path led upwards and disappeared over a small ridge. To my right, a rugged trail would take me to a high point from which I assumed I could have seen the lighthouse. But the path on the right could not be tread by this crippled girl, and so I started to the left. Within three yards, I reached a tricky point, the type of situation that always confounds me: a little rise around large low rocks with no handhold.
Just then, I heard voices and turned towards the parking lot below me. I spied my saviors: a lanky young man and a fresh-faced woman, walking hand in hand wearing sweatshirts, soft jersey pants, and matching flipflops. Just in time! I called, and Connor and Cydney came forward to help me up the hill and to the point from which we shared a long unbroken view of the Pacific Ocean.
With the wind buffeting us, we traded stories of how we all three came to be standing together. When Connor heard that I had just lunched with a Rotarian, his face broke into a radiant smile. He told me had had been a Rotary youth member in high school. Happiness rose within me. Reaching to either lapel of my jacket, I pulled away two Rotary pins which I had felt compelled to wear. Each announced the Rotary International motto of the 2015/2016 year: Be a Gift to the World.
And gifts those young people were, to the world, to me, to each other. They let me pin them as I thanked them for the help they had given me without hesitation. We took photographs, of each other, of the group. We prevailed upon a woman to take one of the three of us from a distance and then Connor did the same for her and her companion. Then we crabwalked down the trail, back to the parking lot, and each of them embraced me: Connor with his sturdy frame, Cydney with her slight body. I pointed out the rugged trail and told them that I thought if they climbed that path, they could see the lighthouse. I gave them my calling card, a pen with my firm’s web address on it, and we traded cell phone numbers. Cydney promised to send me a photo of the lighthouse. I got into my car and started back down from the edge of the world.
I dined in Sausalito. I did not try the restaurant that my friend Cheri Simpkins had suggested, because I could not get a table. I went to another place and broke my vegetarian diet with decent crabcakes. My dinner, though, consisted of a divine beet salad, so delectable that it quite nicely compensated for the lousy service.
Finally, at 7:30 p.m., I head toward Marin Headlands and the hostel, through the five-minute, one-way tunnel. As I had resolved, I hit record on my cell phone, thinking, as I made the journey safely to the other end, that only at the edge of the world would any of this be possible.
It’s the twenty-sixth day of the twenty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Today I head to Pigeon Point. My magical life continues.