Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 1: San Diego to Los Angeles, One Small Step

Day 1:

Morning came and, restless, I got up the first time I woke instead of turning over to go back to sleep as I normally would. Everyone else was strangely quiet, even Jimmy. They slept until 7 and so I was up the first 2 hours of the day alone. I emailed a couple of people, read the news and felt my way into the day. When I finally got up to make coffee the cat joined me. She wasn’t content with me so she proceeded to do what I actually wished I could and wake everyone up with her incessant yowling. Soon the morning was moving fast and with many small delays, almost as if San Diego had an orbital pull on us, even though we intended to leave, we couldn’t quite get out of the county. I was standing at my broker’s front desk waiting for them to track the FedEx package that was supposed to be waiting for me there, with my replacement credit card in it, when I realized that even if I knew where the package was I wouldn’t have it in my hand, so I told them I needed to go. I got in the car with Jimmy and with nothing left to do or take care of before we could leave we headed for the highway, and north. The weather was so dark and cold and rough that it was not like San Diego at all. The traffic was slow and it was as if the place was holding us, not quite ready to let go. I felt like that too. I want to go. I want this so much, this grand adventure and a life in a new place with new people and new experiences. Still, it was so hard to see my son Alex trying to say goodbye this morning. So hard to hear my friend’s voice saying how sad she is and that she will miss me so much. So hard to imagine that I will likely never live here again. We didn’t get far today, but we got out. In the end all the delays and the weather and traffic couldn’t hold us. Our stuff is gone. We have to go. The time has come to leave. Blended with all the sadness was an incredible sense of purpose and certainty. 

We landed in Los Angeles for visit with my mother and sister. We picked my mom up for dinner and because Jimmy is so good at asking questions, and maybe because she knows I’m going far away, she talked with us for the 1st time in years about something other than her health. We talked about politics and she let Jimmy see, and me remember, the powerful and opinionated woman she was in her youth. My mother is the reason I am the woman I am. She is the reason I can go away to South America. She is the source of that sense of fearlessness. Maybe it was genetic. Maybe it was learned. I don’t know. Probably some of both. No matter what has passed between us in the years since and how long the road has been to learning to be a powerful woman in ways she didn’t know how to lead me, I still remember that woman standing in the face of power, so physically small, yet somehow so big and so un-moveable. I can see her, all 5’3” of her, with her curly red hair, standing facing a police officer on the grass in Washington DC with a sign that read “We Shall Not Be Moved” or “Women & Children Are People Too”. I can see her in small towns in Mississippi and Tennessee and other places across the South standing up to people who would deny others their rightful place in our society. As small as she was she never backed down in the face of power. Sometimes that got her nose bloodied. I learned that even if it hurts you follow your heart where it wants to go and you never let fear choose for you. It was nice to see that in her again yesterday. It is one of the things I love about being with Jimmy and hope to learn by watching him, that way he has of drawing out of people the very best in them. Maybe that is why everyone loves him so, because they are at their best when they are in his presence. I laughed inside when my mother talked about going out and marching again. She said if the people go, she will go with them. That would be a sight to see and if she went I would go to, just be there and to get a picture to show to my grand children when I tried to explain the kind of people they come from.

I sat tonight in the company of a man I deeply love and respect and watched that woman I remember come to life for him, just a little. We drank a lovely wine and we ate lovely food and listened to other tables laugh and talk and when the night was over my eyes welled up. My mother is 68 and she is not well. I am going very far away and don’t know when I’ll be back. This night, after a long hard day in coming here, was precious to me and I was sad to see it end. I was not sad to see the end of day 1 though. It was a tremendous day and it feels good to be on the road. The story will begin to unfold from here. I’ll keep you posted...

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