Repositioned in the Orbit of Life. Temporarily.
"My soul feels very quiet today," I said to David on Sunday morning.
We were in the Subaru, driving the long wooded roads just outside of Monterey. Through the open sun roof above us, sunlight cooked my bare arms. I could smell eucalyptus, and moss, and clover, and lilac, and ocean.
David had one hand resting on my knee as he drove.
On the car stereo, Holly Cole was winding her snarky alto through "I've Just Seen A Face." David and I traded off all weekend -- alternating his punk rock tapes and my "Lilith Fair stuff," as he calls my music of choice. His X Ray Spex, followed by my Sarah Hicks ... his Jerks (doing "Get Your Woofin' Dog Off Me"), followed by my Jill Sobule ... his Jam, followed by my Patti Griffin ... ad schizonauseum.
We were both coming off the best night's sleep we'd had in months, followed by a leisurely tandem soak in the motel hot tub. Now we were in search of hot coffee and scrambled eggs, before driving back up the coast towards home.
I don't remember ever feeling better, frankly.
The entire weekend had been like a big soothing greasy dollop of psychic balm on my frazzled spirit. Franz, and the rapidly emptying canoe, and all the rest of the Totem Pole crap ... long-distance worries about The Tots ... ridiculous cyber-related nonsense ... my constant battles with fatigue and hormones and writer's block and uncomfortable shoes ... all of that stuff seemed a bazillion miles away. Everything about this weekend had come together in a glorious gumbo of spontaneity, serendipity ... and good timing.
We were up and on the road by 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, for one thing, thereby outrunning the worst of the holiday travel crunch. Later in the weekend we encountered big snarling clots of traffic, everywhere we went, but Saturday morning it was clear sailing. Within forty minutes we'd left the East Bay behind and were cruising past endless lettuce and strawberry fields in Salinas.
By 9 a.m. we were standing in a parking lot in Gilroy ("Garlic Capital of the World"), taking pictures of each other in front of a three-story mural.
By 11:30 a.m., we were sitting at a window table in a sunlit seafood restaurant, feasting on salmon and garlic mashed potatoes, watching dagger-billed murres divebombing into the translucent blue waters of Monterey Bay.
By 12:30 p.m., we were touring the Monterey Bay Aquarium, looking at sea stars and parrotfish and blacktip reef sharks. I was mesmerized by the huge schools of anchovies ... hundreds of identical gray fish, completely indistinguishable from each other, swimming around and around in endless unblinking circles. ("Just like the message board people!" I said.) We arrived at the Aquarium just ahead of the holiday weekend crowds, and as soon as the place began to feel the teensiest bit congested, we split.
(More of that *good timing* stuff.)
Even finding a place to stay for the night turned out to be about a bazillion times easier than we expected (or DESERVED, probably). By 5 p.m. or so, I was starting to feel just the tiniest bit anxious about it: we were both worn out from all the driving, and I longed to kick off my sandals and unbutton that top button on my Levi's ... splash some cold water on my face ... and lay down someplace dark and cool and quiet. I was afraid that we'd waited too long, though, and that we would end up struggling with a lumpy mattress and a couple of wafer-thin pillows at the local No-Tell 6. Much to my astonishment, though, the very first not-completely-terrible motel we stopped at -- the Del Monte Pines, out on Munras Street -- had one vacancy left. "It's a deluxe suite with hot tub and fireplace," said the besieged motel clerk, between ringing phones. "Two hundred dollars a night."
"We'll take it!" David and I said simultaneously.
Once in our room, we tossed our bags onto the floor and immediately stretched out on the big bed for a quick, delicious nap. I woke up before David did, maybe forty minutes later -- feeling completely recharged -- and while he continued, to snooze I prowled around the motel room, "investigating" stuff. (No motel stationery or Gideon's Bible in the nightstand drawer, but there WAS some fancypants shampoo and soap in the bathroom. Also a couple of interesting insects in the hot tub.)
When David woke up, we jumped back into the Subaru and drove to nearby Pacific Grove for dinner. The meal was uninspired -- an overcooked chicken breast with canned mushroom gravy dumped over it, topped with a hunk of phlegmy cheese and bravely named "Chicken Malibu" -- but the location (and the company) couldn't be beat. Pacific Grove is quite possibly the most beautiful town I've ever seen: row upon row of perfectly-restored Victorian houses and gnarled cypress trees, overlooking a dramatically rocky shoreline.
("I'm ready to retire now," I sighed.)
The remainder of our romantic, memorable, private evening was just that: romantic, memorable ...
... and private.
That night we slept like
two babies after a shopping mall Diaper Derby. By Sunday morning, as
we drove around looking for a place to have breakfast, I felt as
calm, and as happy, and as comfortably repositioned in the orbit of
life as I've ever felt.
My soul would remain *quiet* ... for at least another 48 hours.