This city by the bay – dungeness, sourdough, chocolate and romance
I had no butterflies that day. Which is a bit surprising. For my Fairy Godmother was doing her best to spin a fairytale ever since The Magician landed in Marin last fall. Though she tried to make it seem more about networking and less about romance, I wasn’t fooled. Even with my size 11 flipper feet I could easily be cast alongside The Magician in a love story. Disney loves red heads. And he is the very definition of dashing, with a mile-wide smile and legs meant for wrapping around a stallion as he gallops over the countryside looking for my hair hanging down the side of some castle wall.
My Fairy Godmother is my kind of romantic. There is no chance of her losing herself in a relationship. No way she would alter her game plan or compromise her good character to please another. Yet, she values the company of people over all else. She knows that, while incredible experiences occur when we are in solitude, nothing compares to the enchantment that arises when two like-spirits or more gather. And that the pinnacle of companionship is one that is both romantic and intellectually inspiring. She also understands that nothing is permanent and it’s best to not chase butterflies but sit back and let them dance for you so you don’t miss a flutter.
That’s what they did as I worked my way up Mt. Tam. Small orange and brown colored butterflies in clusters danced about my feet as I hiked through the meadows that link the forests on the lower flank of the mountain. My laugh is more booming Julia Roberts, but when butterflies twirl and flit to and fro I giggle like a little girl. I was happy they were living free and not trapped in my stomach. I was satisfied that a day of adventure, the outcome unknown, left me feeling so relaxed and centered. Calm. Holding on to my pendulum as it formed a tight circle with each rotation, not desiring to be pulled off course. Not seeking the highest of highs, but the natural high of being entirely grounded.
As I made my way through Bootjack, The Magician texted that he had arrived at Pantoll. I found him sitting on the grass, lit by the sun, studying a map. We chose to continue the descent on Steep Ravine, a trail that flows down through groves of redwoods banked by fern covered hills made dreamy by hanging spanish moss and the scent of dirt and wood and life. Our pace was brisk, our conversation snappy, covering as much ground as our legs. At one point nature called, and he had to relieve himself. We didn’t stop talking. I did have the sense to give him a few feet of privacy, but I was unwilling to stop the telling of tales. Some things just can’t wait.
One story that he shared could be the foundation for a great film – how one man is brought back to the very same apartment time and again over a period of many years after moving away to chase dreams or girls, love and life, each time surprised to look up and see the number on the building. We alternated leading the way, easily changing positions on the trail. At one point he stopped mid-sentence and I almost walked right through him. The split trunk of a redwood had us leaping down over fallen trees to look up inside for owls and lay against it with our bodies, inhaling the fragrance and absorbing the vibrations emanating from its form.
The conversation turned to how we choose to make a living as we both experience times of significant change. What we once did is different from what we do now. We’re challenged with accepting new roles and embracing new opportunities without talking ourselves out of them because they look or feel different. We’re open to the possibilities, even when the task requires using a muscle we may never have known we possessed.
And then he said,
I’m consulting on a business plan for (Insert large, publicly traded, international consumer products company here, and remember, there are hundreds from which to choose.).
I stopped, briefly, then continued hiking. My eyes peered up through the canopy of the forest, lifted by my smile, looking for spirits shaking the leaves or some other sign that the Universe was having a laughing fit.
That’s funny, I said. My father was referred to as Mr. (Insert same name of large, publicly traded, international consumer products company here, and remember, it could have been any one of the hundreds from which to choose.)
The Magician’s life is not a mirror of my Dad’s, but there are more than a few key similarities. Including time spent at an ad agency and as an executive at a toy company. I’m sure there are lots of people in your inner circle who have the same background. It’s like running into a barista at Starbucks, right?
His dog’s name is Poppy, he worked in advertising and at a toy company and now he is consulting for the company that is as much a part of my life as breathing is for us humans. So much so that I have a giant painting of the logo hanging on the wall in my kitchen.
At any point in my life except for this present moment in time I would be certain that we were about to embark on a love affair that would have George Burns and Gracie Allen clinking glasses with Antony and Cleopatra as they welcomed us to their inner circle.
After coming off the mountain we walked through Stinson (in 30 seconds) to the beach where we tacked on a few extra miles before scoring two bar stools at the Sand Dollar. Nick hand-crafted margaritas for us as we marveled at the extraordinary, yet simple, life we live on the edge of land. It’s still so fresh for The Magician and so refreshing for me to spend time with someone who is as enamored with every morsel of the experience as I am still, after nearly a year. Some may scoff, but I don’t believe my passion for Stalinas will ever, ever fade.
I was born to live here.
Seven hours wasn’t nearly enough time to exhaust our desire to laugh and get to know each other better so we bid farewell to the Sand Dollar and the festive crew that filled the bar and tables and walked to his home. By the end of our night we had made plans to watch the Super Bowl and attend two parties together the following day. Eleven hours later we took a Sunday drive to Pt. Reyes Station, stopping at the book store and the Bovine Bakery before heading off to a party hosted by his friends.
Who just happen to live in a house where The Dudes and I went trick or treating on Halloween year before last. I snapped a picture of them standing on the lawn in front of the elaborately decorated home for the annual photo album we send to our family. It wouldn’t shock me if I enlarged the photo only to find The Magician waving at me from the upstairs window.
After a phenomenal and perfect performance by the Seattle Seahawks (Barbie with Brains is thrilled!) we ventured south to arrive in time for dessert at a house at the end of a narrow lane and perched on the side of Mt. Tam. Sheets of glass revealed the bay – an image in constant motion, tiny lights moving in every direction, each made brighter by the pitch black night. Even with the city illuminating the sky stars were visible. The Magician and I stood outside on the deck while a couple danced in the living room and others relaxed with wine and chocolate. Three fat candles dripped wax in the most poetic way on the window ledge. Two sheepskin rugs warmed the hardwood floors. Mad Men modern furniture created conversation spaces and romance places. The lady of the home has a head for business and decor. I covet her eye for design.
If The Magician had set out to impress me with his excellent choice in friends, he nailed it. More than a few times I thought, Gosh, I hope I get to hang out with that person some more. And that person. And that one.
Instead of snaking along the coast we went up and over the mountain to return home. At Highway 1 The Magician asked if I wanted to visit a gorgeous spot of land just north of town where we could look down on the waves and up at the stars. Who could say no to that?
My arm linked with his as we climbed down the terraced cliff. Each wave that crashed to shore made my heart beat a little harder. Only our voices could be heard; the lights in Stinson reduced to those few in the homes of night owls. At any point a kiss would have been part of the script. Understandable, if a bit premature.
But one never materialized. And I was not at all disappointed. Instead, I was thoroughly satiated by the longest embrace as we finally said goodnight at 3AM. As he held me he stroked my hair.
It felt heavenly.
We spent 26 of the previous 39 hours together and only drooping eyelids brought it to an end. Honestly, I’ve waited a long time to connect with someone like I’ve connected with The Magician. And if he vanished tomorrow I would be so grateful for the time we spent together. And not a bit sad.
Which indicates that I have graduated yet again.
The Magician could be my friend, my confidante, my business partner or my love, my heart’s desire, happily ever after, old and wrinkled (although he has perfect skin) laughing our butts off in our rocking chairs (although I prefer a tree swing).
And I’m delighted with any of the above.
My feelings about relationships, which have ebbed and flowed from The World’s Most Interesting Woman to my future as The Bolinas Spinster since The Pocket Call, have morphed into something that cannot be labeled. It’s impossible to pin it down. For it exists only in the moment. At any point it can and will change; at all times it begs for me not to attempt control it. No matter the form, when two people come together and can speak honestly, be vulnerable, float ideas no matter how crazy, laugh no matter how loud, possessing not a single hidden agenda or Ego-driven plan, and leave at the end of a moment in time wanting more, magic is created.
Kisses don’t matter.
But Limantour would challenge that. And watching his finger draw a line and then a box would crystalize for me exactly why so many relationships blow apart. And why I have such respect for our willingness to keep trying to fall in forever love.