The Last Drive

This last weekend I drove down to LA to make a swap.  I had boxes to give back to Garry and the chance to go to my storage under the condo to bring some things and take some others.  Nathan’s Little League winning streak prevented Katie from coming up so I drove down instead.  It really was a good thing.  I got to meet my new tenant also and go to the storage myself to store things and take others out.  And I swore this is the last trip I DRIVE.  It will have to be a plane or a train the next time, NOT an automobile.  I’ve traipsed the length of this state 4 times in the last 2 ½ months and I think I’ve overdosed on driving.  It’s time to cut the cord and find another mode of transportation.  Although on this last drive, I probably had one of the smoothest trips I’ve ever had albeit the shortest.  I drove 10 hours within a 30 hour period – a really quick trip.  I even got a personal best on the return home of 4 hours 54 minutes.  Bested myself by 6 minutes!  And it felt slightly nostalgic.  I’ve come to know the 5 freeway rather intimately.  I drove past some of my favorite exits, Panoche Road and Little Panoche Road, (I love those names for some reason) or the ones that sound so wistful like Buttonwillow and Crow’s Landing.   There’s Kettleman City and Wasco and Fink Road and Twizzelman.  Names that just don’t sound like California, but they are.  I reminisced about all the times I’ve driven up and down this freeway and I know it’s been at least 17 and it might be a couple more.  I’ve taken the train and the bus and actually have flown a time or two.  But there’s something more personal about driving.  I can look at the orchards and wonder if they’re almond or walnut trees (I know it’s one of the two) and see orange groves and vinyards.  There’s even a stretch of road where the owner has labeled the trees – Oranges, then the next orchard, Mandarins and finally Lemons Too! I had a nice chuckle reading those along the way.  There are hayfields and stockyards and dairy farms and horses and it really does feel like America’s breadbasket.  So it hasn’t been a total loss or a complete bore to do this drive.  The days have been beautiful and the mountains spectacular.  Going over the Grapevine can be exciting and tense, depending on how the traffic is going.  And I’ve always had my music.  This last trip was a bit mellow, usually Green Day and Nine Inch Nails are on the playlist.  But this time, I needed to hear Paul Simon’s Graceland and Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.  And my new friend Lindasusan gave me her latest CD and I got to listen to that.  The time went by so quickly I’d find myself there.  Both times.  And interestingly enough I found myself calling the Bay area home now.  I was driving back from LA and I thought, it’ll be nice to be home.  And I thought to myself, my that happened fast.  And I don’t think it’s that I miss LA as much as it’s, I’ve made a new home.  That’s when I realized that home is where you make it.  It’s not a city, it’s not a neighborhood.  It’s wherever you make it home.  I can be anywhere in the world and it will be home.

So I stopped by Katie and Craig’s to pick up my clicker for the gate and drop off Garry’s boxes with them and I got a chance to see my plants all newly transplanted!  They are taking such good care of my babies!  Although they’re not mine anymore, I have let them go and they can grow and thrive in another place.  And they look great there!  They can plant roots in the ground instead of living in a pot.  I wish I could have stayed longer but this was a business trip.  I had one thing to do and one thing only and that was condo related.  And I finally feel completely moved.  Whatever is in storage is there for a good long while and whatever is in my tiny apartment is there to stay.  I’ve officially relocated.

So I then traveled to Howard’s house and got settled in to spend the night and then Howard took me to dinner at the Bear Pit BBQ .  Howard is a dear member of the Onion and just turned 88 last month.  He even drove us there and lives completely on his own.  I hope that at that age I’m still as independent as he is.  I got a group together last month or so  to celebrate his birthday and he said, you are already my minister.  What a good feeling that was to hear.  We have great discussions on everything, including religion, and he is one of my biggest supporters.  And I had my own room which was nice.  I didn’t buy a single meal this trip as the next morning I stopped by Mike’s and he took me to Zig’s for breakfast, an LA establishment that seems to have been there forever.  And Penny has come back!  Mike saw her last week and she’s been coming inside for him to feed her.  She has become buddies with Mike’s cat, Tar-jay, and she has no intention of leaving.  I caught a glimpse of her running through the hallway and then never saw her again.  She has made up her mind she will not live in the Bay area, but Mike is fine with that as Tar-jay seems happy that she’s there and I can rest easy knowing that she’s being taken care of.  It would be a bit crowded in Mayberry I think with 3 cats so it all works out for the best.  I do miss her though.  She was very cuddly with me and would lay in my lap and keep it warm.

So the transition is complete.  I’m really here and really moved and really becoming a minister.  So it really is.

From my little piece of Mayberry,


September 5, 2010