Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Pacific Grove Attitude Adjustment

Waning Gibbous Moon

From 2004 to 2005 I lived in a tiny cottage on Central Avenue in Pacific Grove, CA, just a few blocks from Hopkins Marine Station on Monterey Bay. The cottage is not there any more. It was bulldozed a while back to make room for a condominium better suited to someone who could actually afford a condominium a few blocks from the ocean. The time I spent in that cottage though was crucial, a time of a major upswing for me psychologically and spiritually. I now feel like my soul has its roots in Pacific Grove and I always return there whenever I feel the need. When I woke up this morning, I knew this would be one of those days.

Today would have been my Dad's 103rd birthday. There were many years, decades really, when Dad's birthday made me rock bottom sad. In the back of my mind, in the pit of my gut, I had never stopped grieving his death in the bad old days of 1963. But in 2013, when my Mom passed, it was like  the other shoe dropped, to use a tired old weather beaten phrase. For whatever reason, I stopped grieving. I didn't mull it over. I just said no mas - no more being sad when people close to me die. I am free.

So I drove to Pacific Grove this morning, not to escape being sad, not because I was missing Dad, but simply to be my best self. I wanted to walk by the sea, to smell the salt air, to hear the massive splooshing waves break hard on the rocks, to crunch my shoes on the sandy trails, and to revisit tide pools too long neglected in the isolation and distancing of 2020. It was predictably glorious and invigorating. 

The powers that be there in Pacific Grove have tight control over the locals and tourists that are frequently out in force. I only saw one person without a mask and every encounter with other walkers was almost comically careful. The six-feet rule was remarkably enforced by everyone I met - like we all had those shock collars on, the ones people put on dogs to keep them from leaving the yard. Some people contorted their torsos and limbs in the funniest ways to keep from being too close when we passed each other going in opposite directions. Anti-COVID spasms. 

I was wearing one of the heavy duty masks I have in my arsenal in case I might be exposed to a throng of virus rebels. This mask, alas, did not pair well with my prescription sunglasses - I could not keep them from fogging up unless I let them slide way down to the tip of my nose. That was fine and well except way down there they don't do much in the way of blocking the Sun or helping me see. Once I came to terms with all of that, fussing and cussing, I was able to enjoy my walk.

It occurred to me more than once as I cranked out the miles that I really ought to win Lotto and purchase one of those split level beach homes with the enormous bay windows across the street from the Pacific Ocean. So I made a mental note to add that to my to do list on the table in my trailer. I am willing to bet that people I know and love will start coming to see me for a change when that happens rather than me always risking my life driving cross country in Spugly or Amtraking all curled up in train pretzel pose for days on end. Who wouldn't want to sip coffee at my breakfast table with the windows open listening to the waves crashing and the knucklehead sea gulls squawking over a touron's spilled  French Fry.

The whole Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary protection thing is really working. This stretch of beach is incredibly clean and regulated. As a result, the water is still beautiful, the tide pools are full of life, the sea otters play smugly unrestricted, and a walk beside the sea is still holy and restorative. 

Whatever it was that told me to go to PG today was completely on my side in the endless struggle between me and all the stuff that sucks. I am sending my sincere gratitude to that inspiration source from way down in the bottom of my well worn Vasque trail runners. By the time I finished my miles, I was more than ready to head for Goodies Deli for a walloping king-sized egg salad sammie on heavenly wheat bread prepped by the same cool sammie-artist ladies who worked there fifteen years ago. Goodies had to move over to the next block on Lighthouse Avenue from their old location (some kind of "progress" is happening on the old block) , but it's still great and it's still affordable. That, to me, is pretty much a miracle. Also a miracle is how much about-to-burst sunshine energy is stored in the ice plant at the beach. I'm surprised someone hasn't figured out how to run e-bikes on that stuff. Something else for the to do list.

I love this place.

Peace, Love, and Happy Birthday, Dad,

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