Travel Journal Part 2

June 4 and and Beyond….

golden gateThe journey south continues through San Francisco, and more memories return–when I brought my daughter and her friend, David Ray, (who became one of my best Poet-in-the-Schools students) to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in the early 1980’s for a nostalgic feast of music, dancing, jokes and giggles. I am reminded that David, sadly, passed away at an early age. I feel a deep loss, my own and my daughter’s.

This morning, my driving companion and I search out a San Francisco Trader Joe’s to buy something for our later lunch. The parking lot looks packed, so I hop out to find a bathroom. I go down the escalator. A guard stands watch at the bottom.

People come and go. The San Franciscans move quickly, look self-assured, crisp, with contained, intelligent looks. When I see my friend, she is clothed differently than the others I’ve been watching, and I realize, as we go through the store, that we are both, quite obviously, not big-city residents. We dress more casually. We move more slowly. It takes a while for us to search for what we want; then, we have a leisurely conversation with our check-out person (after I check to see that there is, surprisingly, no one waiting behind us). He looks mildly astonished as he picks up our goods one by one. His smile seems to say, these two are definitely from somewhere else.

We drive on towards Highway 280 which brings back my younger days–where my daughter was born and where I worked as a columnist. I share stories about our home near Stanford University. We discuss the possibility of a side-trip to investigate further but decide not on this trip and find a park where we enjoy a brief lunch break.

Our conversation changes driving through the drier counties. As landscapes appear closer to what is familiar for both of us, our driving discourse becomes more personal; perhaps, because we are aware that very soon we won’t see each other again for at least a month. We make frequent stops, then, dive into conversation once more.

For the rest of the journey, I experience intense currents brewing inside, and I continue to vibrate with an energy that goes beyond the residue of continuous vehicular movement. Perhaps, there is more to investigate, more to understand. At one stop, I watch my friend share a portion of her cooler’s food to someone who was checking a store front’s garbage can. I appreciate her quick and kind response.

Since returning home, I have come to see how fortunate I was to participate in a celebration of something that’s often truncated by our modern digital advancements. We are frequently circumscribed by a world of incomplete sentences, of unique abbreviations and spellings, of emojis. This can be both cute and convenient; however, such modern communication can sometimes become substitutes for comprehensive, nurturing talk that helps to embrace diversity, grow our compassion and add to our knowledge of essential matters. I have come to understand how nourishing it is to give each other the time and space to fully express what we mean.

I have a deeper appreciation for how deeply illuminating our face-to-face human connection can be when it is not delineated by the limitations of our devices. I am deeply thankful for the insight and strength given to me for this recent undertaking.

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