Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Leaving Molokai

     It's always been bittersweet. There's the big brilliant unencumbered future full of promise and there are friends, with the ability to stay in one place, who I may not see again for a while. It keeps getting harder to say good-bye. Now I'm in San Diego hunkered in a bunk on a sailboat soon to leave for Mexico. The rain on the deck a foot overhead and halyards banging on the masts of boats nearby sound like mad four year olds beating on steel drums in dishwasher.
     The last painting went up at the airport the day before leaving Molokai. Paddy's shop is back to being a shop (thank you for everything!). I won't miss the scorpions lying in wait. Or the centipedes, or the negative side of island style wireless (read trash talk fueled by the fangs of boredom), or the price of gas or hoards of suicidal gnats that thrashed in the wet paint dying horribly. I was told I was pathetic in Georgia for putting bugs outside. Empathy for gnats, on the scale of wasted emotion, is right up there with worrying about idle gossip, but I do both anyway.
     The finest moments have always been with friends, even though I spent most of my time in the shop with the scorpions.  I got to the beach once when I stopped to say hello to neighbors and they waved me into their car. Five of us ended up sitting in the shade staring at the sea contemplating the waves. The husbands sat under one tree and us gals sat at a busted up picnic table under another. Rocks and beach junk held up the end with the missing legs. We sat for hours talking while inch worms magically appeared on us. Bright green worms wafted down on invisible threads in large batches, in the tropics bugs usually show off with mass displays. The newly hatched weird little creatures performed the classic inch worm stride across our hats, up our legs and into our bags. At first they seemed sweet, cartoonish, even unusual, but in the end even comic bugs were easily place kicked with a fore finger when their numbers hit maximum creepy. It was a testament to the power of girlfriends. We were so happy to yak we stoically tolerated worms raining down upon us. Kitty and Heidi, please keep in touch, it was great to reconnect. I'll go to worm infested beaches with you any day. At home there was one worm left, inching along the collar of my shirt, so I put it outside.
     Mickey, I'll miss laughing over breakfast, although I'm sorry I can't post the moment, we took turns closing our eyes in each of the photos. Flying to Oakland went by fast, I put my head on the window and never opened my eyes, but am glad no one took a photo of that.      
     All this moving around caused someone to ask what I'm running away from, but that implies the glass is half full. Running towards something is a much better concept. It denotes purpose rather than inability to cope. I didn't run away from Walnut Creek's weird piped in music on the street, or the facades with fake Roman flair or the atmosphere of sterile right wing sameness. I ran to a boat leaving the country with two fun people. The drive through the central valley, the rolling green hills topped with snow and blossoming trees in long straight rows flashing by were the frosting in the middle of the cake. Until I hit Grapevine and climbed over the pass in a white out blizzard. But it's not a long stretch of road and it had only begun to snow so the road was clear enough. It was over before I had time to complain.
     David met me in Walnut Creek for coffee before I left for San Diego. We have managed to see each other with enough irregularity to notice how age is creeping up on us. Twenty years ago the problems were all different. We worked at the same museum and had energy to spare and a lot of it went into maintaining the false front of being cool.  Behind the fragile charade, we cared very much about what we pretended didn't matter. It was fun to laugh about how it doesn't seem to mean so much anymore, it being success, or what that was going to look like. Seeing David brought the undoing of all those silly notions into focus. The future has arrived and it turned out to be two middle aged friends standing on a street in front of silly buildings with big false fronts, kind of like how we used to be. He climbs mountains now, the real kind and I have another chance to be where I feel most at peace, on a small boat on the big wide ocean.
     Si bon, the boat I'm on now, sails to Ensenada tomorrow at 3am.


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