Sausalito 20 Years Later

Dec 28, 2014

Observations on a walk with my sons in Sausalito, three days after Christmas

If you want to hear many languages being spoken, see families smiling, taking group photos and walking together, go to Sausalito.  If you have a beautiful, friendly dog, walk the downtown street in Sausalito and see how many children and families are happy to stop and pet your dog.  Mesa was tied by a decorative wrought iron gate while we picked out chocolates and I saw she was being photographed by tourists passing by.

Almost 20 years ago now, I visited Sausalito as a tourist with my then boyfriend, for the first time.  Back then, it was a shiny, colorful dream town, a romantic place full of winding hills and infinite possibilities.  Today, walking with my sons, we all saw industry, poverty, smelled lots of cigarettes and saw many cigarette butts, tourist filled shops and so many docked boats, seemingly not in use on a glorious, 58 degree, sunny winter day.  It was definitely not the place I launched my dreams at in 1995, as a cute, MFA student with the handsome Icelandic boy, the love of my life, who I'd convinced to come cross-country with me because Northern California was so wonderful and we must go and apply to graduate schools together.

Today, after a wonderful and messy adult life I've lived here in California, now unmarried, yet with my young twin boys- young men (almost teenagers!)... we stopped at some of the shops, bought organic chocolates, toy cars and hot cocoa. They liked The Barrel House Tavern best of all, Aidan loved their bathrooms.  The sure sign of a great restaurant in his mind is fancy plumbing. We had ventured out today to see the Gingerbread houses, a contest they do in Sausalito every year, but forgot our maps in the car back by the Bay Model.  By the time we'd reached town, there wasn't much light left in the day to track down the hand-made houses.  We decided to go back another day if we found the energy.

As we walked back, I watched a little girl with braided hair chase a seagull off the railing by the ferry.  My sons walked together quite a ways in front of me, and even when I could not see them, they still made it back to the car on their own, with out my guidance. I could occasionally see the green from Blake's jacket and the blue from Aidan's sweatshirt, disappear in the trees well ahead.  I thought, "how wonderful it is to have a twin brother".  They always have someone to walk with, and talk with, and they are always in the moment.

As we rode home, we talked about being positive each day, and trying to see the positive things about today.  It is definitely very hard for my sons to do right now.  I am not sure if it is from YouTube, or the things they hear at school (they know about school shootings, and had a lock down drill at their school recently) but there is unrest in the boys.  They worry about violence, grades, college and not having enough money already.  I definitely did not worry about these things when I was their age.  Is it boys?  Are they worried about these things more than girls at this age?  Is it the time we are in?  Is it Marin County?  The cost of living in the Bay Area and how much pressure it puts on families?  Most likely, it is the fact their mother has had only contract work for over a year now, and she is constantly moving from company to company, very frustrated with not having true employment.  I see they have adopted my worries and my stress.  This is not ok.  I think about how I will try to make them understand.  I will try not to be so stressed out about work.  They need me to be more present.

As we drove home, I thought about how we'd arrived today, listening to Anne Lamott and Jack Kornfield at 1 PM speaking on the radio via KQED City Arts and Lectures.  They are both old souls who have seen so many grow up here and change over time.  Anne mentioned how life is messy. Grace we see in others is sometimes amazing, yet sad.  I thought of how my simple act of getting my sons out for a walk today, and sharing my loving dog with many foreigners visiting with out pets was somehow healing for them.  It helped me connect with strangers too.  Talking about how my dogs lint gathers in the corners of my home and how easy it is to sweep up was somehow soothing for all of us. Jack's story of the woman who adopted the juvenile who murdered her son and raised him as her own had sent tears streaming down my face behind my sunglasses as I drove onto the 101 towards today's adventure.  Their reminders that life is messy and still miraculous helped me get through today, and I hope my sons were able to absorb even a small bit of their wisdom.  If all they remember is the cool bathrooms and that Mom said it would be a nice place to bring their girlfriends someday... Well, that's okay too.  We move forward like this, one day at a time.  Twenty years ago, I had a boy in California that I loved.  Now, I have two.  Maybe Sausalito isn't as exciting, but the adventures my sons will have in their lifetime surely will be for them.  Hopefully, their mom will get a few more chances at colorful, romantic dreams again too.