My favorite part of staying at HI Pigeon Point involves the human connection. We gather in the kitchen in the Dolphin building, a ragtag collection of people who did not previously know one another and who might never see one another again. We share stories, and chocolate, and eggs. One has butter; another bread; a third contributes a pie from down the road. We ask from where each has come and how we happen to be bunking at a hostel on the Pacific Ocean.
Occasionally, I band with another traveler for a few hours or a day. We venture into the surrounding area and share the experience of the red wood forests or the wetland trails. Today I went to Año Nuevo State Park with a neuro-psychologist from Turkey by way of Virginia. Because she accompanied me, I could walk the 4-mile round trip as far as the Staging area. I waited for her there while she climbed the rest of the way to see the sea lions. When she returned, we made our weary way back, greeting the children who scampered past us with their patient parents. We spoke to a couple of docents, one of whom let me take his arm over a particularly rough spot.
When we returned to the hostel, my friend, whose name is Gunes (pronounced ‘Goonesh’) made a Turkish vegetarian dish for us to share. My brain and my legs had gone to mush by then. I could not get my mouth around a proper thanks. I became too fixated on loading some photos of our day to Google Drive so that I could share them with her, but the lightness of the air or the nearness of the sea interfered with my connection. I received a mug of green tea almost without thought. Suddenly she had gone, down to the point to watch the sunset or over to her own dorm room. I realized that in my fatigue, I had let her wait on me. It felt as though a sister had come to the place, and soothed me with the kindness which flows in common blood. Or perhaps, it seemed as though my old friend Mona, with her lilting Lebanese voice, had returned to scurry around the kitchen and fuss over me.
Days such as these give me precisely what I need. My bones ache. My muscles protest. But my spirit soars, thanks to a day’s worth of Vitamin D and a slender woman who quietly walked with me in the stunning beauty of northern California.
It’s the twentieth day of the fifty-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
*I explained to Gunes that “Año nuevo” meant “new year” in Spanish. She taught me to say “new year” in Turkish — “yeni yil”.