Open Up That Golden Gate
Part 1 - Something Had to Change (http://reasonable-thought.
Part 2 - In Search of a Plan (http://reasonable-thought.
Part 3 - From Sandia Peak, a Plan is Born (http://reasonable-thought.
Part 4 - I’m Leaving Town, but Where Will I Go? (http://reasonable-thought.
The first day of my trip, had taken from Albuquerque into the middle of Arizona. I had chased the sunset, watching it escape, until darkness enveloped me. But I awoke and the sun had taken up post in the eastern sky. It urged me to get moving, so I ate and pointed myself west to continue my travels towards California. I smiled, there was something exciting about the prospect of building a new life in a new place.
The road from Arizona to California was long. It seemed an endless procession of generic cars with miserable passengers, each weaving through traffic, aggressively trying to shave a few minutes from their itinerary. The occasional vehicle of happy travelers blessed me with smiling faces and friendly waves, providing a much needed lift on my journey. One family in particular, had three kids, who continually animated their stuffed animals in the rear window. I followed this muppet show for hours, laughing and enjoying the playful fun. When finally, we went separate directions, they all waved as the driver tooted farewell.
My trek lasted sixteen hours, an arduous task for any motorcyclist. It left me staggering, vacuous and droopy by day’s end. So when I arrived at Aunt Wilma’s and Uncle Charles’ house in Modesto, I needed sustenance and sleep. My mind was dull and I couldn’t construct a proper sentence, causing them to laugh at me, feed me, and show me to my bed. I slept for seventeen hours, emerging late in the evening hungry for food and starved for conversation.
We sat at the dining room table, exchanging stories and laughing. I was happier than I could remember being in years. These two, Charles and Wilma, were my favorite relatives from my grandma’s side. They had always made me laugh, and on this occasion, they shared stories about me as a toddler, about my mom as a girl and about my grandmother as a child on the farm. They lovingly offered advice and genuinely wished to help me succeed in life. I longed to stay with them, so as my departure drew closer, I resisted. But I knew I’d have to keep moving, so I thanked them, hugged them and sadly climbed aboard my bike to head north. One last stop, a visit to college friends in Sacramento.
Though hot, Sacramento was fun. We saw live music, ate Baja Mexican and drank ourselves to sleep each night. This experience was happy and optimistic. I hadn’t felt so excited since the beginning days of my failed college career at the University of New Mexico. I was lighthearted and exuberant. The future excited me and each day, I longed to get going. So after a few days, I thanked my friends, said goodbye and headed West for San Francisco.
Traffic was heavy and the heat was relentless. But as I neared the Oakland Bay Bridge, I suddenly drove into a wall of fog which was unlike anything I had ever seen. It proved a hazardous relief from the cruel sun and surprisingly, as I rode onto the Oakland Bay Bridge, the fog cleared. I looked North and gazed upon the expansive bay, filled with water from the Pacific Ocean. The scene captivated me and when traffic came to an abrupt halt, I nearly crashed into the car infront of me.
A short time later, I left the bridge and found myself in San Francisco, the city of rent strikes and hippies. The epicenter for the summer of love and more recently, the gay capitol of the world. I couldn’t believe it, I had finally arrived and as I cruised through the streets, trying to find my way north to the Golden Gate Bridge, my excitement grew. I knew from my core, that this was where I belonged.
The Golden Gate Bridge was larger than I had imagined. It was majestic and bold. I rode onto the bridge, heading North towards Marin County, when suddenly I noticed the broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean to the West. I stopped on the north end of the bridge to admire the view and then continued to Sausalito where I would phone my friend. “Mike,” he said, “I can’t believe you’re actually here. I’m at Stinson Beach. You should come out here.” He gave me directions and a short time later, as I entered the small beach community, the front tire of my motorcycle went flat. At least it had waited for me to arrive at my final destination, so I pushed the bike to my friend’s house and promptly forgot about that trouble in favor of a meal and good conversation.
Next day found me body surfing and talking to seals who popped up beside me in the waves. I had found paradise and I would make it my home. I couldn’t believe my fortune at finding this oasis of beauty and ease. Though I couldn’t imagine it at the time, this Northern California oasis would provide me with an education in life that would forever alter how I view my purpose and my place in this world.
I thought I had found a place of relaxing beauty and easy living, but I would soon find myself overwhelmed with personal challenges and a hopelessness that made my recent experiences in New Mexico seem happy. I’d have to confront myself in ways I had never imagined and grow emotionally into an adult. I'd have to deal with a spiritual deficit that could kill me if left untreated.
But none of that mattered now. I would confront those challenges soon enough. For the time being, I basked in Northern California’s beauty and dreamt of the wonderful life that awaited me. This land of opportunity seemed limitless and I dared to dream big. Despite the difficulties that lay ahead of me, I had definitely made the right choice. Moving here would be a boon to my personal development. This place would help to define my values and put me on a path to transformation. It would become my home and take up a permanent place of reverence in my heart. It never displaced New Mexico, it simply imprinted itself as another home, a place to love and to miss.
To Be Continued...