The reality of what I was doing didn’t dawn on me until I was winding my way down the California Coast, in pitch black, with no wireless connection, hence no Google map on my phone to guide me.
A book about a girl who’d returned to her home in Carmel by the Sea after her father’s death, inspired me to try being a writer in the first place. I’d read it while, like the heroine, I was back home at my grandparent's house in Watsonville, facing major life changes/decisions.
That life-changing book isn't in any literary cannon. It was an inexpensive, paperback Harlequin Romance with a man & woman embracing on the cover.
My friend Theresa's mom (with her hair set in pin-curls, which she'd take out just before five when her husband return home from work) would drive us to the library where "checking out" Harlequin Romance's meant filling a grocery sack with all the titles we didn't think we'd read before, taking them home and reading one in an afternoon while Elton, Rod or Bread played in the background.
To admit I have forgotten the title, is not to say I have, or will ever forget that book. It made me who I. . . was.
And now, some 28 years later I’m retracing my steps so to speak. And this time, I’ve traveled even farther distance-wise, if not time-wise. My last trip back to find myself had been via car, with 2 small children in tow—a much weightier journey on so many levels.
To get to where I am now, on the eve of the Big Sur Writing Workshop, I flew from Port of Spain to Houston to San Francisco and drove the 137, 3-hour trip down. I could have flown into Monterey Airport instead. That drive would have been less than an hour. And—or is it “but”—
. . . I would have skipped the drive down highway 101 through San Jose to Gilroy and up and over Hecker Pass to Watsonville.
When I was a kid, the twisty-turney, bumpy, hot drive over Hecker Pass made me queasy. Subconciously, is that what drove me to drive it this time? Is this part of my Hero’s Journey? Is making the drive without urping one of my quests?
If I had flown into Monterey instead of San Francisco, I wouldn't have had an opportunity to stop in Watsonville to check out the town, drive past my grandparent's house on Oregon Street and peek over the fence, past my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Joe's house in the next block, or The Miramar--my mom's favorite place to eat back in the day (best garlic bread and mastaccioli in the whole world)--or drive through the old shopping center, with The Coffee Shop, where we’d go for lunch at least once a week, and Bud’s Barber Shop, where my brother Joe, and later my boy Max, got the “traditional boy cut” and a sucker. Or the Elks Lodge where we’d go for the Friday Night Fish Fry, and to the cemetery to visit my grandparents.
. . . Or have dinner with my cousins Jodi and Amy until Sunday night after the Workshop.
Last Saturday, rain and more rain, kept Curtis and I from our regular walk. Instead we watched movies. One was Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.
In WAR of ART, Steven Pressfield draws attention to THE ODYSSEY how, when Homer was within sight of the shore—of home—rather than remaining vigilant, got lazy, cocky, and went to sleep. While he slept, his crew, believing his bag was full of treasure, untied it and released the unfavorable winds.
. . . If I hadn't stopped for dinner I wouldn't have been driving south on Highway One at close to 9pm, even though the instructions to the Workshop and Big Sur Lodge clearly stated the park closed at 9pm.
. . . I would not have been driving in the pitch black of night on that narrow, windy, empty highway winding down the coast, not sure where I was going or how much longer it would take me to get there.
I signed up for the Big Sur Workshop quite a while back. Back when I thought I was staying the course.
Did I subconsciously know I had strayed far, super far, and finding my way back wouldn’t be so easy?