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Sometimes I Travel

Having been rooted in one place for so much of my life, travel that shifts me from here to there is most often an adventure.  Sometimes moving through space is a small delight, and sometimes a great adventure.

My recent trip was in the middle.  I would call it a mini-adventure with both respite and rejuvenation as well as a bit of boundary stretching.  

Most of my travel has been by myself.  At some point in the future I will add up my travels with attention to companions, places, and length of trips, but for now, I guesstimate and rely on some internal meter that is neither chronometer or pedometer, but something as yet uninvented that lays in between the two.

So last week I boarded a plane at a godawful hour on the first flight of the day a carrier makes from my southwestern hometown to the City of Angeles where I transferred to another flight to the Bay.  Only a tiny bit of weather landing in LA from Hurricane Rosa remnant or rumination not quite yet formed into Sergio.  

A dear friend picked me up at the airport.  We lunched and talked and she brought me up to date on her move from the tech sector to starting her own business.  It is still very hush, hush as her work is in the early patent process.  She is French, so political talk and wine flowed.  Her husband, also a close friend, is English, so there was also quite a bit of pub philosophizing about the nature of life, time, and space — nearly all related in some way to his work, except for his telling me about his Mum pointing out and telling him about Sheela na gigs at various churches.

At times I feel very unaccomplished in comparison to those people around me.  

She said a good day
Ain’t got no rain
She said a bad day’s when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been

–Paul Simon.  “Slip Sliding Away”

I have felt the despair of lost opportunity more often than not in my life.  But I keep on keeping on.

I guess I should explain this sad little curly-cue of a digression.  I understand my path in life. I accept it.  Without having walked it, I would not be me, and had I had an easier or more successful, or consistent career, I would not appreciate my life, health, attitude, or family as I do.  And I would not be able to learn from the rather massive amalgam of what I call my interests.  

This short trip to Northern California helped me mend a few worn spots in the patchwork quilt of my life.  

The Internet Summit (the 7-plus hours of the event is linked here) was forward looking, but even as I heard communication politicos from the Obama Administration, Directors of Children’s Programming at PBS, and Historians of Silicon Valley (to note just a few of the types of speakers at the Summit) my thoughts travelled back to my first two visits to the Bay Area in the late 1970s.   

Way back when people on Telegraph Avenue talked of phone phreaking, I somehow made it into the midst of an ensemble of folks, from my home town in the rural midwest, as they began writing code, assembling or compiling whatever, in their first forays in what became their  migration to California.

I observed (ever the anthropologist) my friends become early employees of the people whose quotes comprise Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley, a signed copy of which I snagged at the summit.  And now 40 years later I managed, inadvertently, to take a wrap-up tour of the same area so heavily layered with memories from my youth while celebrating current friends and family.

The man I lived with in my college days and on through my 20s was a programmer of sorts but he did not like to apply himself and always seemed to have dreams of short-circuiting the path of hard work that leads to success and traveling straight to the rewards of hard work.  He was so smart… and short-sighted.  He stranded us in Berkeley one summer. It involved selling a VW Bus that we drove out there so as to make enough money to pay for the trip and flight home.  It did not work.  His schemes never did.

I convinced him to purchase a ticket back to West Lafayette for me just as the semester was beginning so I could continue my schooling. He returned eventually.  How different would my life had been if I had stayed and gotten a baby-sitting job as was suggested?  Vastly I am sure.  I wonder if he would still be alive today if I had done that. I was always a caretaker, he might have fared better.  I had some good times that summer and I learned so much through participant-observation of the blossoming computer culture.  But I also learned how close homelessness and dependence on alcohol can be when you leave your path in the hands of another person.  I learned some very important lessons that summer.

And now all these years later I have revisited friends who live and work in start-up land, attended a conference/summit that catches me up on some of the semiotic processes at work in the information structures of our culture.

I managed to take Caltrain, BART, and Amtrak as I zipped around the Bay.  I love trains.  I wish we had a real rail system in the U.S.  San Mateo to Townsend Street in San Francisco and back to San Mateo as I spent two evenings with friends on either side of the Cloudflare Summit.  Then I caught an Amtrak commuter line to Sacramento where I took a Lyft to the suburbs and spent the weekend with my daughter and her husband, and my Grand-dogs.

There must be treats in here somewhere.

While this piece is a bit retrospective, if it is travel related, there has to be food, right?

Orphans in mid-town Sacramento has breakfast that is amazingly wonderful and diverse.

Then on Sunday we had brunch with an old friend, and her husband, who took me right back to nostalgia as she knew me and my ex during those misadventure to California days.  Full circles and all that, and just to capture the point, the place we met was High Hand Nursery and Cafe in Auburn where I adored not only the Eggs Benedict I had (highly recommended!) but also the plants, and galleries. 

I also purchased a painting from an artist with Tucson roots of a southwestern subject about which I can say no more until I give the painting as a gift in a few months.  I spoke on the phone with the artist about full circles and women’s legacies.

Oh, and while traveling I listened to the audiobook of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin which starts with a mention of  a literary murder by leg of lamb.  It is one of the most wonderful books I’ve read.  And then I ate lamb stew at my friends’ home.  Full circle.

And not least of all, I watched the first episode of the new Doctor Who, who has regenerated as a woman, with my daughter.

All-in-all, I think this was a Goddess-guided bit of travel.

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