I found this saying on the back of a van at Hook & Ladder winery in Santa Rosa off Occidental Road.
Life is about things that happen while you are doing other things. John Lennon said it much better than I have, but it's true all the same. We raced out there to pick up a bottle of Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce. Their motto is “Service Through Courage.” We used this wonderful sauce to BBQ 10# of tri tip on Sunday night for a big family party. There was barely a scrap left.
Here's how you can order your very own: www.paloaltofirefighters.org. All proceeds go to charity. And while you are at it, if you come up to Sonoma County, you must try the Hook & Ladder Cabernet. A good, clean red that went so nicely with the meat, I'm going to start believing in predestination again.
So focused were we about getting this sauce that these words attached to the hatch of a mini SUV caught us completely by surprise. I got to thinking, on the way home, how my wanderings had brought me to this time and this place.
I've shared recently that I began my writing journey in part because our house had burned down and many things were lost to me forever: my great great grandmother's hair – a long braid that was exactly the texture and color of my own; the box she brought over with her from Scotland, lovingly made by her father. It stored all her worldly possessions. She was 14 and came to a family in Chicago to become a nanny. Her father made this box not knowing if he would ever see her again. And we suspect he never did.
Her guts and strong determination to make a life for herself gave me life. Her wanderlust, her desire to go out there and just fish in new waters gave me opportunities to live and now become a writer to tell those stories. And though her box is gone, her doll is gone, sewed with her mother's own hair, they will live forever in my memory.
She was a wanderer, but she was not lost. Just like me.
The president of a very large company I worked for had taken the time to befriend me, and when he found out about my fire, sent me a package. It was a handmade wooden box, like a jewelry box, from about the middle 1850's, that he and his wife purchased in an antique store in Austin. He said, “I cannot give you back your great grandmother's box, but perhaps you could adopt this orphan box.”
And I have. It houses thank you cards and little mercies I run across every day. If I am a little blue, all I have to do is look at that box, read some of the letters and mementos housed there, and feel the pulse of good energy flow through my body again. What is lost can be regained, although not in the same form. Perhaps a better one.
What about you? Are there some days you just feel like getting in the car and driving until you run out of gas? Or, taking a plane trip to some place new? Or watching people at a coffee house?
And isn't that one of the great things about writing? We get to live in a fantasyland of our own creation, and work like a dog until we get paid to do it.
I call that pure heaven.