April 27

Leaving and Memories

There are few places in the world where a part of me resides. These are special places because I had a big growth spurt there or I discovered a part of myself I didn’t know existed. This photo was taken Thursday afternoon in Mill Valley, California at Bayfront Park during a late-afternoon run. This vista takes my breath away. It also reminds me of when I lived here and how I changed that summer.

A widowed bookkeeper at the office where I worked lent me her late husband’s Red Dodge Ram pickup truck that he used to tow their boat. I lived in the steep hills of Sausalito and she understood that carrying groceries up those steep hills or walking at night up those long, narrow streets would be difficult and dangerous.

I rented a room from Jo, another widow who had recently resumed a relationship with her high school sweetheart, a pilot with his own plane, in Ohio. Jo reduced my rent if I promised to take care of her enormous, but not very bright, Irish Wolf Hound named Jif. She was gone most of the month with her guy so Jif and I had the run of the place in her 1902 spectacular home perched on the hills of Sausalito with million-dollar views of the San Francisco skyline visible from the picture window next to my bed. I had never had a dog growing up and hadn’t been around them much. But I began walking Jif and taking him places in my big red Dodge Ram pickup truck. We were a great pair. I was 31and very unattached at the time. I knew no one in the Bay Area other than the not-very-friendly co-workers at the design firm where I worked. So Jif and I spent most weekends together exploring San Francisco and sketching San Francisco’s architecture. We’d park someplace with a great view and climb up into the flatbed of the pickup truck with a blanket to sit on, a book or my sketchbook and Jif.

One day I parked the truck in front of a shop in Mill Valley and caught the reflection of Jif, the truck and me in the window. When did I become a dog person? I thought. Then I saw myself getting out of the big red truck. And am I now a pickup truck sorta woman? I wondered. I might be. I could be. I can be anything I want. I can. It’s my choice. It’s one thing to say it and it’s another to know it. Suddenly I knew it and life seemed to open up so many possibilities. Thanks for the memories Mill Valley.