just had to break free

I need to be wild.

I used to be B- wild. Now I’m D- wild. I am cautious and predictable. I like order. Not a fan of environmental chaos. I need coffee-specked kitchen counters wiped down and shiny. I like to sip mad-hot French pressed dark coffee in my favorite Santa Cruz-purchased ceramic mug as I read “The Los Angeles Times”. I like my hair brushed before noon (a COVID-19-pleasant concession). I like bare feet. Is this pseudo wild? I feel decadent if I have a glass of bubbly at 11:30 a.m. with avocado sesame seed-sprinkled toast. I haven’t romantically kissed a guy for, aw shucks, 1,000 million years .

Sometimes I feel like I need to surf or skateboard or cartwheel down the hallway at my school (when it was, and will eventually, be safe) then realize my body is too big or creaky for such potentially life-threatening nonsense.

Potential.

To do good or to do harm?

I’m trapped in the, “This could be dangerous” chapter right now. Go to Trader Joe’s and I might die. Go wine tasting in Paso Robles with my daughter and 5-month-young granddaughter and we might come home with The Virus.

Mask-less people in public without 6-feet apart distancing pisses me off. You know, I have never written the word “pissed” before. My mother would be so disappointed. I wasn’t allowed to utter, “bitchin” either. Once I wrote “Davy (of The Monkees) is bitchin'” on a handmade poster taped to my bedroom wall and was demeaned for using “foul” language.

Last night I had a dream that I threw a farewell party for my daughter/g-girl who will be leaving for New York City soon. People showed up to PART–AY hard. Guzzling my $$$ wine. Smoking joints in my bedroom. It was absolute havoc until I said: ENOUGH! “Those of you who aren’t wearing a mask have to leave NOW!” I ordered. Most stubbled off the property. A few grumbled about their civil rights being violated to which I remarked, “That is your choice, but this is my house.” Angel Cove Cottage was in shambles and I was left feeling regretful that I had allowed myself–once again–to trust people to be considerate.

Wild. I want to be. Everyone else wants to be. Break out. Go nuts. Be 18 again. Recoup. Save up. Get a new job. “To hell with The Man!” But I am of the age that if I do make a mistake it could be financially or health wise, fatal. I have to be cautious, thoughtful.

Thoughtful.

Thoughtful is a positive word. Thinking things through before you—snap—and make a decision, react, in a way that could be harmful to you or others. Some people call it being mature.

Being impulsive is good when mixed with wisdom. Following one’s instincts, paying attention to “the market”, be it legit news reports about the economy, the pandemic–whatever–is just plan smart. Not wild, but savvy.

So, given my longing to just wanna break free and escape the dishes and the pooper scooping of my day-to-day life, I booked a hotel room at one of my favorite places on the Planet—Cambria, CA. I checked and double-checked rates and COVID-19 protocol and felt safe enough to pounce on a great mid-week deal. My daughter and baby g-girl were game and we had ourselves Our First Road Trip as a Trio! (Not usually a big fan of exclamation marks, but time it truly warrants one!)

Baby was a great traveler and had her first swim in a pool. (Nowadays you have to schedule time in the pool and carry-in your own room coffee maker–a sensible corporate response to the pandemic, along with no mid-stay housekeeping and new clean towels.) We wine-tasted under the clouds of an unpredicted summer rainstorm, had picnic breakfasts in the room and watched HGTV to our heart’s content. Was it the same trip I’m used to? No. It was quieter. More crowded. We paced ourselves and sanitized anytime we brushed against potential germs. Honestly, it was one of the best trips ever because we unfurled from the crisis for two whole days, didn’t obsess about the trials of teaching, getting sick, the future, the election, lack of money or the “Affordable” Dwelling Unit remodeling project back at the homestead. We were in the moment cooing with Baby Millie B, visiting with my dear friend of 50 decades, and in all ways enjoying The Great Escape.

My version of wild: I organized a spontaneous trip, charged it to my once-empty credit card. No regrets. Just happy memories.

Thursday night, walking along the boardwalk after a day of rain showers, Millie asleep in the hotel room, daughter watching “reality” TV escapism, I found my way to an ocean-facing bench I’d sat at many times before: The bench is dedicated to the life of a loving storyteller, former teacher, journalist and beloved father, husband and friend. Shrouded beneath the girth of a sprawling cypress tree, the bench is surrounded by a chain garlanded with several hundred rusty locks of all shapes, sizes and colors. Apparently padlocks attached to public spaces metaphorically represents eternal–secure–love and gratitude: Despite the wrenching pain of loss, the symbolic locks symbolize a shift of thought and focus–from the squall of despair to the brilliance of a butterscotch sky. Wild. Unexpected. And just what I needed.

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