November 21, 2011

Holding On

After the morning session at the writer's retreat, I changed into shorts and we went to the Blackbird cafe. I found myself enjoying the warm porcelain of the mug more than the actual coffee, staring aimlessly out the window at Tomales bay, just being present with the wood floor, the spilled creamer, the fancy pants car that pulled up so someone could drop off their used netflix at the post office.

We drove a long way to the lighthouse, the fog growing thicker and more surreal, some trepidation growing inside me. It was a thick blanket of grey by the time we reached our destination, after winding through cow pastures a plenty, cattle ranches and farms dotting the way. I was already cold, a condition I abhor, and was grateful that I had brought along pants and my winter jacket.

We hoofed it up to the visitors center, the cypress trees crying drops of condensed mist, creating a microcosm of damp earth, filled with rich moss. I was amazed at the lack of parking, the amount of folks out on this Sunday, despite the inclement weather. We wound our away to the weather station, where a brisk wind would occasionally reveal the ocean far below, information boards proudly proclaiming recorded gusts of 133 miles an hour, maybe my definition of hell.

We walked a little ways back, finding a surprisingly warm bench to eat our sandwiches, sharing potato chips and water. Chip opted to go on to the light house, but I balked at seeing the sign warning that the steps were the equivalent of climbing 30 stories, knowing my knees would complain the rest of the week. I wandered back to the car, the condensation so thick on my glasses that I just took them off, content to have blurry vision in the fog.

I sat in the car and continued to work on what had become my main focus in these last few days, facing my own struggles and writing to affirm myself all the times I had overcome similar obstacles in the past, all the resources I could draw upon now. Chip bounced up to the car, my happy Tigger, ready to hike into the wind and nestle into the poison oak and tick filled grasses. I struggle with the recent concepts of being content with the way things are and the need to create my own reality, which did not include being cold or being exposed to Lyme disease. I tried to not sound cranky as I requested we move some where more conducive to my needs, like the retreat house or a cosy cafe.

We ended up just going down to the beach a few miles away, instantly much sunnier, the sound of the elephant seals filling the air. We had passed many cows and a herd of deer or elk, the fawns practically obnoxious in crossing the roadway. We walked down to the rescue station, where for years brave men had launched boats to aid those who had been lost in the sea and fog, ships run aground and airplanes that had crashed on the shores.

We sat at a picnic table and shared our latest writing, I finally found the courage to share my piece on my real challenges, tears running down my face, choking up in places. We seemed to talk for a long time, and I found that beacon of hope in my chest, a lightening of my spirit as my internal fog lifted.

We walked back to the car and Chip went on another hike while I started a new Sherri Tepper novel, drinking his cold coffee and munching on potato chips. At some point I became anxious, looking up the trail for his familiar red sweat shirt, beginning to imagine the worst and wondering at what point would I go looking for him. I admonished myself to stop catastrophizing, to enjoy the calm warm car, but still my eyes would glance up at the end of every page.

My heart lept when I did see his familiar gait, and I felt silly for having wasted any time in worry. We went back to retreat house to change our clothes before venturing to Point Reyes Station for dinner, ending up at a very pleasant saloon with live music and yummy food. We talked about Gengis Khan and gratitude, holding hands when possible and thoroughly enjoying fresh popovers, speculating on blessings in disguise and how to create our future together.

Now we are back at the retreat house, a quilt resting gently across our laps, sharing the space with other participants, working on our writing assignments. I am tired but quite content, feeling happy with the little rock that Chip bought me, It has the single word on it, gratitude, and I know that this is something I can hold on to.

Blessed be.