Thursday, March 7, 2019

Holiday Living

Playa de San Pedrito, my favorite walking spot

We have landed back at our casita in Baja California Sur, Mexico after six months away. Friends here ask, "How was your vacation?" They see us as having come back home. It feels more and more that way to me, too.

Yet "vacation" is such an odd word. We don't vacation, we live a traveling life. Life-as-vacation has a nice ring to it. If life is short, why not make it a holiday? The word "holiday" comes from "holy day." So perhaps living with a vacation mindset--alive, fresh, and new--makes every day holy.

I started thinking about life in this way years ago, when I was still teaching. My New Year's resolution seven years ago was to do something new every day. New route, new conversation, new food, new book, new teaching approach...anything big or small, didn't matter. When you travel, everything is new. So living that way in my own town made me feel like I was on vacation. I now see that experiment as a seed planted that blossomed into this very life Dave and I live today.

Not to say it's all-paradise-all-the-time. No matter how you live life, there are bumps in the road. But when you're living how you really want to, the bumps can be easier to navigate. We had both been struggling a bit our last few weeks in Australia--getting over colds and dealing with bizarre weather like hot wind that set my skin on edge--that landing in California felt extra sweet.

Each time we come through California we face an ever-dwindling but persistent pile of things at our friend Mark's house. Dave decided it was finally the moment to divest himself of all of his Silicon Valley work clothes. He donated them to a men's shelter, which will use them when they send men out on job interviews. One man's ending, another's beginning. 

And then there were our beloved bikes that we'd ridden many miles along the ocean cliffs in Santa Cruz, and taken on a ski lift in Big Bear to ride down the fire roads, and ridden up a mountain in Zion National Park to watch the sunrise, and cruised around Portland. These were not the right bikes for what to do with them? That thought was on our mind when we went to visit our friends Debbianne and Tony, who happened to mention they wanted to buy bikes for the great trails of their new hometown. Dave and I looked at each other and blurted out, "We have bikes for you!" I love knowing our lives are entwined through those bikes.

Hanging out with Debbie and Tony in Monterey
This was part of a flow of giving and receiving: When a friend discovered we were renting a car, she loaned us her extra one. We gave our snow tires to a stranger. An old friend gave us free passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I gave a friend feedback on his poems. And another invited me to a concert because she had an extra ticket. This movement feels like breathing, like waves. It seems related to all the strangers who let us stay in their beautiful homes in exchange for caring for their pets. In fact, we did a housesit in the Bay Area, in Walnut Creek where we enjoyed a darling golden retriever (and I got a lot of editing work done).

Button and Jasper
Turned out, around this time our first great-niece was being christened, so we were able to meet her and hang out with Dave's family. 

Dave, brother Milt, Milt's son James (holding Madeline), sister Sue
And then, at the housesit, we found a book about the history of the area. We opened it up to a page that featured Dave's great-grandfather! 

For years Dave had told me that his ancestors co-founded a Bay Area town, which by toss of a coin was named Clayton rather than Rhinesville. So we drove over there and walked into the museum. The place was filled with people chatting, holding tea cups, and snacking on cookies. Turned out an event was going on called the Camelia Tea. When Dave revealed his last name, people went crazy like he was a celebrity. The beautiful old home is filled with pictures and artifacts of his ancestors. It's mind-blowing to think how his family coming from Germany (among the first Jewish settlers in the area) led to a moment where we held his great-niece in our arms.

We also spent time with my family and were able to celebrate my niece Hailey's 18th birthday at a restaurant in Pleasanton. After our meal, she hopped onto a red-eye to NYC, where she hung out with friends she'd met last summer in Bali (where she'd traveled and done community service). Yes, my niece has a desire to see the world, too, and I couldn't be prouder of what a wonderful human being she is.
Evan (20), sister Crystal, Hailey (18), auntie Kate, Jenna  (16)
And lucky us, we got to care for a furry family member, my sister's dog Coco, for a week. I mean, really, she's as adorable as they get. 

Coco came with me to visit my friend Candice and her dog Darcy.
And then there are friends that feel like family...many of whom we were blessed to see.

Tung, Luc & Daisy. 

Mark, Jackie & Todd

Paul, in town for work, came by.

I also got some power-women time, including a hike, concert, dancing, meals, and attending my friend Laurie's spiritual center to listen to her sing in the choir.

In Santa Cruz with Stacey & Laurie & Junebug
That's another thing about this lifestyle: We don't stay in one place so we can't take for granted our time there. Our connections with people, our explorations, are all imbued with a sense of the reality of passing time. The holiday of life.

Yes, these are holy days.