West of home last Friday, on the I-80, I felt the temperature drop 30 degrees. I turned off the air conditioner and lowered the windows. The sound of traffic did not bother me as I drove into the City.
A light fog clung to the Golden Gate Bridge. People strolled in the streets, still masked but with bright eyes above the little strips of cloth. Music drifted around corners. Waitstaff greeted customers like friends who had gone to sea and returned with long beards and tall tales. Children scampered ahead of their parents. Dogs eagerly gulped water from bowls set on sidewalks outside of coffee shops.
By Saturday, I had grown accustomed to the coolness of the coastal weather. Surfers mingled on the beach with ladies wrapped in silk shawls. Fathers lifted toddlers to their shoulders on the Pacifica Pier, wrapping small jackets around their tiny bodies. I eased myself among them all, murmuring a quiet greeting now and then. I sat on concrete benches, leaning against the brass plaques that spoke of lives and loved ones lost, remembered by the grief of the living. I eavesdropped on conversations started in the spring of 2020 and resumed with a seamless casual ease. Eagerness dripped from the voices of people who had not seen one another since that day, that awful day, when California closed.
From a picnic bench, I watched pairs and clusters of families traverse a sand dune to and from the beach. Kites floated among the birds on the breeze moving inland from the distant horizon. The lyric of language drifted around me. I sat silent and solitary amid the swell of life. I hovered between sorrow and joy.
Sunday morning I drove north, all the way to Jenner. I passed picnics, and barbecues, and long lines outside of oceanside restaurants festooned with welcoming banners. I saw fathers with children, women holding hands, and a thousand radiant smiles. When I finally got home, I discovered that my gardenia bush, which I have been desperately nursing back to health, had five fragile blossoms on its lower branches. I stood on my front walk and wept.
It’s the twenty-first day of the ninetieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Please enjoy this slideshow, which has 30 images. If the pictures remain stationary, try clicking on one; it should trigger the show to resume its flow. Thank you.