Later we found out that the cop that gave Sasha the “drunk test” had recently been in trouble. He had gotten his picture in the local paper, so he wanted a few extra copies for himself & family members. He did the classic move of dropping a quarter in the paper machine to buy one paper and took a dozen more, free of charge. I lady saw him & narked him out. Oh, the humanity.
Anyway, the whole point of our trip was to attend a “going away” party for my dear nephew who has joined the Navy. It was so hard saying goodbye; it literally tore my heart to pieces with love, pride and trauma. As a baby, he carried an expression of deep thought tucked inside his piercing blue eyes, like he knew something the rest of the world never would. So strange that he is all grown up and making adult decisions for his future. Now I know how my Mom must have felt having her 3 kids leave home for the first time. I can’t imagine what my sister is going through. She dropped him off yesterday and left him in the hands of the Navy. Letting your kids go is an odd, gut-wrenching right of passage as a parent. He will do well; the world is waiting for him.
After a few days in the town where I spent the first 18 years of my life, we went to San Francisco, where I had lived for another 7 of my years on earth. We went straight to the beach, so I could hear my favorite noise: the crashing waves of the ocean. Seattle is surrounded by water, but it is the Puget Sound, which is entirely different. I miss the violence of the ocean. I immediately got sunburned, because my skin had not seen the sun in months, so the second it had a chance, it sucked up as many ultra violet rays as it could siphon.
We also drove by my Grandparents old house where they lived for 50 years and where my family would visit a few times a month every month for years until my Grandpa’s knees were too weak to manage the 3 stories, forcing them to move to the suburbs. The memories were piling up in my head and when I looked up at the window to where the living room was, I could see my Mom as a little girl peaking down at me through the stiff drapes. The new family that owns it painted the outside pink and I know they love it there too.
We rented a room in a nice hotel in the Japanese district. We had a decent view and a deep soaking tub and everything was so clean, it felt good to languish for a few moments. Sasha watched the start of the Super bowl while I wandered the streets & reminisced some more. When I returned to the room, my brother was there, so we had a Super bowl party of 3 with sandwiches & beer & a chocolate birthday cake my sister packed up for us in a cooler.
Later that night we met up with some of my dear & wonderful old friends from high school and had a lovely dinner while more reminiscences floated by, smacking me in the scull, one by one.
Each day of our trip was like a mad scribble. There was no sleeping-in or relaxing for too long, we had people to see, places to go. This time we were headed to Campbell to see our friend from Seattle who had recently moved here and started a brand new life. We were able to inspect his new offices, car & home to give our stamp of approval. The visit was too short as it was time to start our drive back.
Not long into the start of our return trip, a big rig truck that was speeding right next to us let out a horrible BANG! The enormous trailer had jumped its hitch and slammed onto the fat tires with a great deal of smoke. The weight on the tires dropped the trucks speed by half and all the cars behind it had to come to a quick stop. The driver somehow kept the truck from performing a movie stunt and toppling over in a fireball. We left the mess in our wake and felt pretty lucky that we were just a few seconds ahead of what was now a terrible traffic jam.
We continued our car games which consisted of counting: Hawks: 108; Turkey Vultures: 82; Blue Herons: 22; Deer (live) 7; Dilapidated barns: 6; Cows: one million; Road kill: Raccoons: 22; Squirrel: 5; Domestic Housecats: 5; Skunks: 4; Deer: 2; Opossum: 2; Coyote: 1; Unidentifiable: 16
After only 4 hours on the road, we had to stop in Redding for our overnight, since we got such a late start. We avoided the Motel 6, but somehow ended up in an equally skuzzy motel setting, where the light switch was crooked, the bathroom smelled of an ocean of backed-up sewage and we could visibly see other people’s hair all over the bed.
It took us 11 more hours of driving the next day to make it home and as I finally slept back in my own bed, all I could see was the past moving by like asphalt behind my eyes.