Last month, I loaded up my little Saturn and headed west all alone—like some kind of pioneer woman. Well, I wasn’t exactly alone.
I had the Angel of the Lord with me, and three stuffed monkeys.
I’m not sure where my Guardian Angel rode during that long trip, but the monkeys sat in the window along with a sign that read: “California or Bust”. (One glance at the car assured everyone what the “Bust”part meant. Before I left home, I’d managed to bust both “plastic” fenders on my Saturn. I bandaged the fender-cracks with duct tape before setting out on my journey.)
I took off in the late afternoon on April 8th, heading into the setting sun. I was going to see the California Man…..the one who had proposed to me during the spring blizzard several months ago. I was leaving behind everyone and everything dear to me and was heading into unfamiliar territory….
With so many miles to go, I drove like a mad woman—flying along mile after mile, getting only snatches of sleep along the way. I crossed plains and mountain ranges and deserts. I encountered blizzards and crazy drivers. It took me only two days to go almost 2000 miles… I was flat moving!
The stuffed monkeys were looking rather glassy-eyed by the time I reached California…But I felt ecstatic. I stared at the palm trees and the lush green vineyards. The sun was warm. The breeze was salty. I shed my jacket and donned my shades and tried to look California Cool. Poised. Fearless.
But it’s hard to look Cool in curlers. My head-scarf had gotten buried somewhere in the mess of my backseat. The car was a disaster, inside and out. To make matters worse, I soon got lost…
Really lost….My California Coolness quickly melted in the hot sun.
I stopped at the nearest business…a fancy Chrysler dealership. My embattled Saturn was embarrassed to pull into the lot—-but we had no choice. Even the monkeys were mortified. They tipped over in the window and refused to sit upright.
I approached Chrysler’s front lobby, my weary clothes askew. I had to go the restroom badly, so I know I must’ve walked funny.
“I know this isn’t a gas station” I said to the fashionable folks behind the counter, “but I am sooo lost…” I squinted down at the map in my hand. It looked strange and garbled. “I can’t see where I am…”
The Californians turned my upside-down map right-side-up. They showed me where I was and how to get out of there, then sent me on my way. They were even nice about it.
I didn’t dare ask to use the restroom.
I headed out again. I found Highway 101….that lovely, twisted highway leading along the western coast of the Golden state. It was a learning experience to be sure. Basic California 101.
Californians drive like the dickens… I realized if I were to survive, I’d have to learn to drive like that, too….and I soon got the hang of it—whipping in and out of traffic like I was born in an LA ambulance, rather than in Hicksville, USA.
Amid all the fine Mercedes and Beamers, my bandaged Saturn stuck out like shattercane in a soybean field.
I gazed at all the scenery passing by. I tried not to gawk..but it was hard. “Oh my Lord!” I said over and over. I was not taking the Lord’s name in vain. I meant it most reverantly. I felt overwhelmed and I had to tell the Lord about it.
For a gal who hasn’t seen much but cornfields and combines, lately, I was feeling downright tipsy…just drunk on it all. The great swooping valleys, the endless orchards… the magnificent vineyards. (If I’d been stopped by a trooper. I would’ve had a hard time explaining the problem. “Sorry, officer…y’see I’m drunk on California…”)
I found myself teary-eyed over the Redwood trees…Those massive giants that had sprouted back in the days of Christopher Columbus. The rivers and crystal waters took my breath away…Deep turquoise pools as clear as the Caribean, reflecting a cloudless sky. There were shadowy glens and mysterious canyons…..
Surely nymphs and fairies lived amongst those deep magical forests.
My car blundered to a stop many times and I got out to perch precariously on the side of the busy highway, staring in awe at the sweeping panaroma below. Cars jostled past, just inches away from me—but I could only stand and gape.
I was busy gawking when a tour bus lumbered to a halt beside me, and the driver threw open the door. Passengers stared at the gal in curlers with the bandaged car full of monkeys.
The bus driver hollered at me. “Is that your hound dog back there in the road, young lady?” he said.
I shut my gaping mouth. “Um no…No sir, it’s not.”
“Hmmmph…!” He obviously didn’t believe me. “Hound dog’s gonna get himself run over…” The door shut and the bus rumbled on.
Embarrassed, I scrambled back into my car and resumed my journey, stopping only for gas and sodas after that. In a restroom, I pulled the curlers from my hair and cleaned up as best as I could. I stared at myself in the mirror and sighed. My California Man would sure think he was inheriting a mess….But I had no time to fret about that.
Eureka was just ahead.
My heart beat faster as I jumped back in the car. My foot pressed hard on the accelerator. It was evening and the sun was starting to set. I was just minutes away from my destination…my Darling…and perhaps my destiny.
I called my California Man on the cell phone, and he arranged to meet me.
It was a most romantic meeting, I assure you.
There we were in the salty breeze of a Pacific sunset…waves crashing about us….the sun sinking lower and lower till it slid beneath the sea. With arms wrapped around each other, we stood on the edge of the world—in a place where the land ends abruptly and the wild Pacific takes over…A twilight zone—suspended somewhere between one life and the next…between darkness and light. In a dusky world of wonder and promise.
It was hard to believe I was here. It all seemed surreal. Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I fumbled my way to a huge driftwood log and sat there staring into the deep waters that stretched as far as the eye could see.
It was then I cried.
The California man didn’t say a word. He just held me and let my tears soak his shirt. It had been a grueling journey….But I had arrived—-me and my Angel and the stuffed monkeys.
I’d made it, all right….
But I had no way of knowing the strange things that awaited me in the days to come…
~~~~~~~To be continued~~~~~~