I should have known better than to book a hotel room through Airbnb. I found it with my GPS guidance, annoying though she can be. But once parked, I could not enter. Construction blocked half of the ground floor rooms and the entire entrance. I would have to scale a rickety, makeshift set of steps and descend to a rubble of concrete.
Eventually, I got into a room. Thoughts of a short stroll to a Chinatown restaurant vanished. The elevator could not open on the street level. My car had been captured by the valet-only, no in-and-out basement parking lot which had the only functioning lift to my third-floor room. I ordered from DoorDash and ate at the simulated oak table. I tried to be philosophical about the lost romance of the evening I had envisioned.
In the morning, I checked out far earlier than planned just to escape. I made my way to the neighborhood of my scheduled appointments, trolling for a parking spot decently near any open breakfast venue. My luck asserted itself and I landed at Jane on Fillmore with a delicious egg-topped avocado toast and a seat next to a pleasant retired attorney who swims every morning in East Bay. Imagine that; swimming in something that I only spy from an overhead bridge at fifty miles per hour.
After several hours of grueling examinations of my uncooperative eyes, I found a vegetarian restaurant for lunch. One out of two dishes rose to the lofty menu descriptions. But I had a view of the Golden Gate bridge, even though they don’t seat parties of one by the window. I drank hot tea and read a few paragraphs of the next in a well-written series that I recently discovered. I’m dreading the day I turn the last page of the final book. The author died in 2009.
I got lost trying to find the entrance to the highway that would take me home. Eventually, I turned down a street with the same name as the levy road on which I live. That took me to the proper turn-off and I started east. A moment occurs in every trip to the coast when I say goodbye to the ocean. On this trip, I saw a flash of it from the Bay Bridge on my second circuit around the city. Somehow I got confused, or stuck in the wrong lane. I went north on the Golden Gate, east on the Richmond, and back west on the Bay before I finally got straightened around. My advantage lost, I settled into the groove of afternoon traffic, resolved to endure a three-hour drive that would have been ninety minutes had I been paying closer attention.
When I finally dropped my overnight bag on the floor of my tiny house, the sun had set over the Delta. I had watched it from my sideview mirror as I waited for an accident to clear on Highway 12 a few miles west of town. I poured a cold glass of water and sank into the easy chair that my friend Tim the pig farmer gave me. Whenever I go to the city, I spend a lot of time stressing over whether I should spend the money for a hotel or rise hours before dawn to beat the rush hour traffic headed in the same direction. Then I pressure myself to pack food to save the restaurant expense. Each encounter with a host who queries if anyone will be joining me causes a moment of panicked realization that I have indeed arrived at late middle-age alone, just as my mother predicted. All of these things overshadow the pleasure of moments at my beloved Pacific and the thrill of finding a used bookstore just steps from where I have breakfast.
Back home from my two days in the city, I scrolled through the dozen photos that I snapped from my car window. I had not taken time to drive to the headlands or northwards to the rugged shoreline at Point Reyes. But I had seen some sights. Then I had returned to the countryside, and the simple views of my daily existence. The shadow of the city lingered, flickering just out of sight. Night fell. I stood out on my porch and listened to the eager yip of distant coyotes and the mournful lullaby of a pigeon settling into the branches overhead. I pulled my shawl close around my shoulders, then went inside to prepare myself for sleep.
It’s the fourth day of the one-hundred and nineteenth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
There are eleven photos in this gallery. Sometimes the galleries lag; if you click on the frozen photo and then exit out of it, the scrolling should resume. Please enjoy.