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Richmond/San Rafael Bridge

Image by ChadScott via Flickr

From perusing my last few posts I detect a certain level of anger, hostility and…anger.  It happens.

3 months ago I did something stupid to my back. One doctor wanted to take out a major organ and another said, no way (ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION). After the MRI the second doctor won. “Severe muscle spasm” from possibly helping someone move, too much stress, or just…age.  I was sent back a grade in yoga and it was a swift kick to the ego.

Before my demotion, I spent almost a month in bed, could barely walk and was one sad camper. Which brings me to my title.

A long time ago I lived in San Francisco: The Mission, Russian Hill and my favorite: The Tenderloin. When I grew tired of my aesthetic obsession with the city I moved to Marin County, Mill Valley to be exact.  Through the kindness or pity from my brother I then got a job with a camping equipment company in North Berkeley.  I became chief fixer of tent poles (not kidding) and waterproofing tester of jackets which had been returned.  I worked in the Warranty Department.  It was a perfect match.  A cast of colorful misfits worked in this filthy building (detached from the glamorous headquarters of course.)

Since crossing the Richmond Bridge had to be done every morning, I met a co-worker at the entrance to San Quentin and we car-pooled almost every day.  There is or used to be a tiny beach just before the entrance to the prison, and it was the perfect spot for very brave windsurfers; lot’s of different currents out there on The SF Bay.  But driving over that bridge, which somehow touches my heart more than the Golden Gate, was magical and inspirational. It’s design makes one feel as though flying over water because you can see so much of it. The extra bonus was my traveling companion, who is hysterical, and still a great friend.

When I was promoted (?) to Customer Service, I moved 4 feet from my beloved tent-pole-apparatus-making-area to a desk next to a window.  I’m sure you think the promotion was good, at least I did at first but an artist needs to be doing something with their hands or they go batty…really batty.  My small bank of windows looked out onto a beat up concrete road, and a weed filled empty lot. Not a pretty view by any standards.  So whilst waiting for people to call from the Appalachian Trail to complain (campers complain A LOT) about snow on their tent breaking their poles, I stared out that window for hours, and began to write.

I need to backtrack a bit to when I was first hired. My co-workers were some reformed hippies, college kids and the funniest Korean women I’ve ever met who were magicians with their hands in sewing.  Anyway about a week into the job my boss sent me outside to the empty lot to set up a tent, and find out what was wrong with it. It was a huge tent with heavy poles that disconnected at joints held together with a bungee-like cord. I’ve forgotten the technical terms.

After about a half hour, maybe even 45 minutes struggling to put the thing together I figured I was going to be fired for not being able to set up a tent.  When I admitted defeat, and glanced up to the building, the whole staff was watching me, laughing. My goofy boss was hazing me by making me set up an Everest Expedition tent that usually takes 3 or 4 people to do.  It was embarrassing but very funny.

Back to my desk with the window: the view was hideous but it was still inspiring.

Back to my injury (no pun intended): my view from my room is gorgeous. It isn’t symmetrical or perfect in any way but if I’m awake before the dawn I can see the glow of the sunrise, watch the squirrel family appear for breakfast (stale crackers), look at the trees, the beaten fence, a few geraniums, a very old rose-bush and all kinds of tiny details that one wouldn’t notice if only glancing.

(By the way, the squirrel family appears at the same time every morning looking for their crackers. It’s uncanny.  They climb up and down the tree outside my window, stop and stare at me as if to say, “Where’s breakfast?!” This is after they’ve run across the roof top sounding like a pack of dogs.)

I’ve slowly been recovering from my injury but made the common mistake of feeling great one morning and decided to go into the garden to pull weeds, get my hands in some dirt and give back.  BIG mistake. After an hour or more I almost fell over and had to use the rake as a cane to get back inside to my bed by my window.  Ego, ego, ego, ice, heat, ice, heat, ice, heat.

So I feel depressed at times with pain, the death of a friend and other normal life dramas but all I have to do is stare mindlessly out my window and I am healed.  Some might call it meditation…