From the east peak of Mt. Tamalpais to the city by the bay…
I scaled Mt. Tamalpais as if I was on an escalator. The first two miles flew by. The stairs that form many a switchback on the lower part of the mountain barely caused a thigh burn. This pleasant surprise was just the beginning of a magical day.
It’s always gorgeous, rain or shine, fogged in or blown by wind, on this most spectacular coast. But Saturday was different from all the other days I’ve witnessed.
The water beyond the Farallon Islands was visible. A disorienting and rare sight. I would have believed the tale of an overnight earthquake shooing the islands toward shore. The city of San Francisco seemed cut out of thick construction paper; the edges of the buildings were distinct against the blue sky, their gleaming sides lit by the sun. All the bridges could be seen, and the water south of the Bay Bridge – I never knew that part of the bay was so enormous.
Sailboats dotted the bay, north, south and east. Mount Diablo was so clearly visible it seemed impossible that it could ever hide. When I stood on the peak of Tam the entire Bay Area looked like a movie set – planes, cars, boats all in motion, white water stretching south as far as the eye could see on the peninsula, bridges glistening, deep green trees layered over blue water made silvery by the sun. Napa and Sonoma to the north. The tip of Pt. Reyes so close it could have been Bolinas. And there, on Bolinas, The Calmmune. I could pick out each structure.
Each detail of the 360 degree view was so clear, so real it all looked absolutely fake.
I sent The Magician a text: Get ready to be wowed.
He was meeting me on the descent, at the Pantoll ranger station. Usually I fantasize about a margarita when I’m embarking on the 18 mile hike from Stinson beach to the east peak of Mt. Tam, but today I was excited to wrap my climb with time on the beach in the company of a man who a short time ago decided to make Stinson his home. As one longtime resident remarked when The Magician said he had just moved to the toy-sized, sleepy beach town, That doesn’t happen very often!
It doesn’t. What seemed to be a natural migratory move for me is often a bold decision for the few who choose to make it. Living in Stalinas (Stinson-Bolinas) means a long and windy drive to anywhere, feelings of isolation, and nowhere to hide. It also means being stripped naked by Nature. Faced daily with the extraordinary beauty of the Earth. Dared to be grateful, always, every moment. You stand out if you bitch and moan while living in paradise. You invite a Universal smack down.
Moving to Stalinas is an opportunity to shed and get real. If the opportunity is embraced, it’s a big life-changing move. If it’s not, it’s an expensive detour in a pretty place. And it’ll spit you back out to make room for someone more willing. And brave. Chances are you’ll look back through regrets.
I first met The Magician at The Calmmune, courtesy of my Fairy Godparents. Although he was on the property, and our houses are all clustered together, it was really by chance that our paths crossed. (Edit: I just reread this post, as I normally do, a few hours after posting. That’s how I usually catch my typos. In this case I caught myself being unconscious. There was nothing ‘chance’ about our meeting at all.) I had spent the afternoon on the Duxbury Reef taking pictures of clouds and sea grass and looking for starfish. Upon my return I saw the lights on in the art studio. Inside were my Fairy Godparents. I pulled my car to a stop and ran in to show them the pictures of the sunset – it was a breath stealer. At the other end of the studio was a tall man gazing at a piece of art. Earlier in the day I walked behind his car as he pulled in to a parking spot on the Calmmune. A surf board extended through the sun roof. I didn’t see him then, as I made my way to toss in some laundry. But as darkness moved west we gathered around my phone to ogle the intensity of the sunset and introductions were made. It was just before Thanksgiving.
My Fairy Godmother, wand poised for spell casting, was ready to shove a glass slipper in his hand, a taffeta gown over my head and hustle us out the door to the ball. Albeit with this most racy comment:
It’s not about f&*king. (Sorry, Mom. I love you. You are so pure you probably can’t decipher what I just typed.) It’s about broadening your circle.
Good thing. Because if it was about f*&king I’d be in a real pickle. I forget how.
Three of us were staring at my phone, and The Magician was staring at my ring. The one that used to be on my Grandmother’s hand, and then on my right hand before I made life easy for my former spouse and gave it to him to place on my ring finger when he said, Will you?. Now it’s back where it belongs, forevermore.
Your ring is beautiful. It reminds me of a magic trick I used to do.
Can you imagine my internal reaction when he said those words? If it was a live taping of my life and you all were in the studio audience I would have looked over my shoulder, eyes bulging and mouthed,
Can you believe he just said that?
He does magic.
I had promised The Dudes I would make them lamb chili so the invitation to join them for a glass of wine was declined. But I knew I’d see him again. My Fairy Godmother would insist on it.
And I did.
The day after Thanksgiving when The Dudes and I were invited to Calistoga for a day of games and socializing on a mountain top at a ranch built to encourage generosity. …only in Northern California… He walked toward the car as I drove up, followed by a small, butter colored dog with gentle eyes and the gait of Lipizzaner Stallion. His name? Poppy. The name my Dad chose to be called by his grandchildren. The name I use today to keep his memory alive for The Dudes, even though they never met him.
He didn’t stay long at the ranch that day. But long enough to tell me that he read parts of HGM. (He had asked my Fairy Godparents for the blog name which I hesitantly provided.) We spoke philosophically about relationships as we sat on a deck overlooking Mt. Saint Helena. He was with a sweet and beautiful woman I assumed was his girlfriend. 99% of me wasn’t disappointed by that fact. I knew that we would become friends and that, these days, means the world to me.
He started the new year off by moving to Stinson and I ventured back east. It wasn’t until this past weekend that we reunited.
Mt. Tam has soaked in a lot of my tears, kvetching, angst, anger, and joy. She held me while I held the severed finger of a young boy, his head cradled in my lap, tears falling off his cheeks. She has made me feel like a beautiful, capable woman instead of a renovation project stalled. And she listened as I repeated the same made up conversations no matter how hard I tried to silence my own mind. On Saturday, as the path sped by, my legs pulling with a surprising amount of strength given my month spent recuperating from the beast of all sinus infections, I thanked her profusely. For over two years she has been my companion. She’s not just a place I come to hike. I truly feel adored by her. And the feeling is mutual. Tears so full of happiness they felt carbonated burst forth from my eyes. I threw my arms wide, my smile just as broad, and said,
Tam, you I love.
Instead of two and half hours of thinking about what might or might not happen when I met up with The Magician, I paid attention to my core, my energy, my thoughts and I spent time imagining life on Mt. Rainier. In other words, I had my priorities straight. It’s become so much easier in the last month to not stir up my mind, allowing my heart to do more of the talking. Feelings of spontaneous gratitude aren’t stifled by needless, pointless Ego chatter. I took a water break and attempted to digest the views. From even just a few months ago things have shifted so dramatically. I am at peace, happy from within, graciously accepting what each day holds. I don’t have any desire, conscious or unconscious, to control any outcome. I am competent at going with the flow and resisting the urge to force things into place. Somehow this laidback-ish way of being does not lead to procrastination but actually inspires me to accomplish more with less effort.
But the most remarkable change in behavior was the elimination, finally – after nearly two and half years, of conversations that never happened and will never happen with my former spouse that ran like a skipping vinyl album in my head. I wouldn’t be surprised if that condition is one of the most detested by those experiencing betrayal, infidelity, divorce. It can be debilitating, energy-sucking, anger-inducing, and leave more scars than the events themselves if left unchecked. To finally recognize that they have stopped, regardless of any interaction with my former spouse, is something I celebrate like the 12th Man is celebrating today. A championship parade complete with confetti and me on a flatbed truck ripping through town, clutching my tiara.
You all know how big this is.
And the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
At mile 14 I practically skipped into the parking lot at the Pantoll ranger station. And there, sitting in a patch of sunshine, was The Magician.