Ten years ago today, I landed in the Bay Area.
On November 7, my 1997 Ford Escort station wagon had 114,000 miles on it. Six days later, 3,950 more would be tacked onto the mileage indicator.
Having vacated my Augusta, Maine apartment at the end of October, I delayed my departure for an entire week so that I could vote in the 2000 election. I was at the polls at opening time (7:00 am, if I recall correctly), performed my civic duty with dispatch, and headed south on I 95. I’d watch the election (non) results that evening at the home of my friends Paul and Patti in Washington DC before getting an early start for day number two.
It would be all hotels for the following four evenings: forced off the road by the threat of tornadoes near Carthage, TN just a few miles short of my daily goal. Then Oklahoma City. Then Gallup, NM. And Finally, a night in Barstow, California before landing at the home of my Uncle Paul and Aunt Paula in Palo Alto sometime a bit after 1:00 in the afternoon.
I’d otherwise be reluctant to bring up the election at all, apart from the fact that it figured centrally in setting my departure date. Otherwise, we know how that all played out. We’re still saddled with the aftermath, and I’ll be damned if that snarling, arrogant cur George W. Bush isn’t in the news, again, right the hell now, ten years to the day, pimping his memoirs which, as it turns out, are not entirely his. It’s a fascinating and perverse coincidence.
But there I was, and yet here I am.
I have uncovered no pots of California gold, so far, in the baser sense, but it has been a decade of many riches.
I am married. Legally married. Who’d have dared imagined such a thing possible in 2000? Further, to an impossibly kind, gentle, thoughtful and funny guy. I’m blessed.
The road that forms my apparent path is tossing me a few pot holes and speed bumps, but I have established myself as someone who someone else is happily willing to pay to write. Not bad. Not bad.
The amount of time I’ve been able to spend with my saxophone has vacillated wildly, but I’ll be damned if it ever disappears completely. It simply won’t go away. Good.
I will always consider myself a Mainer. I will continue to actively, thoughtfully miss it for at least five minutes of every day I live elsewhere: a span of time that may very well bracket the rest of my life.
But it’s good to be here. I’ve had wishes fulfilled I didn’t even know I’d been granted permission to have.
And for those yet to materialize, they’re germinating here, in the most fertile soil imaginable.
Photo by NASA via Wikimedia Commons