“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you” goes the saying. After arriving for a short vacation in one of my favorite cities, San Diego, I was therefore not surprised that “Edgar” had brought himself along for the ride. He, or “it” if you prefer, had packed himself in the depths of my ginormous suitcase, amongst the slacks, tops, electronics, books, walking shoes and books. Egad, can’t I go anywhere to escape from that demon?
To understand Edgar, you need to know that I am a “recovering” adoptee. My original mother relinquished me when I was five. Even though I grew up with wonderful adoptive parents, I’ve struggled for years to come to terms with being adopted. I wish I could announce in a loud voice that I’ve succeeded in getting over my adoption issues. The best I can offer, however, is to say confidently that I am making progress.
This change of scene, however, has been more beneficial than weeks of therapy. San Diego’s magic begins to take effect the moment I arrive. The adjectives that come to mind: salubrious, sensational, scenic. Add to that another ingredient: simplicity. There is something quite wonderful about running away from home. Life can be pared down to an easier pace.
My host family (son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren) leaves for work and school every weekday at 7 a.m., so on this overcast late Autumn morning, I embark on a two-hour walk to a nearby coffee shop. I’ve been visiting this San Diego neighborhood for the better part of the last decade and traveling the same route, to the java cafe. First it was “It’s a Grind,” which went out of business. Then it became “Sweetest Buzz.” But this time, there is no coffee shop. Where the “Buzz” should have been loomed a completely empty retail space. A “For Lease” sign was taped on the window. A sad, empty storefront occupied the place I’d spent memorable hours composing on my laptop and sipping lattes.
Had the expedition fallen flat, or was there something else awaiting me? Instead of going home right away, I decide to check out the park near my host family’s house. Walking a couple miles back to the neighborhood, I sit and enjoy a serenade of songbirds, the ambiance of healthy young trees, a verdant carpet of green grass.
The park itself is a marvel. When I first saw it years ago, it looked unpromising, even hopeless. Today, the community outdoor space is filled with children swinging, sliding, digging in the sandbox. Parents visit with one another. Laughter from a toss ball game sounds across the field. An elderly man is marching along the sidewalk, stopping at each circuit workout to do pushups or pullups or a balance beam.
The day isn’t complete, however, until I take a hike on the nearby former dairy road. It’s a road I’ve walked before. One of the city’s many walking paths, it branches off from a busy thoroughfare and loops back into a small canyon. Thistle, purple flowers, and feathery plumed bushes brighten a brown and sage terrain. Ahead of me, a large bird, strutting in a quail-like fashion, walks across my path. Other than it, I am alone. The sun intensifies, but just in time a gentle breeze picks up.
Of course, being a grandmother/writer and retired from a regular career means that life should be simpler anyway. That’s not how it works, however. When I’m at home, a million projects shout out: “clean me,” “organize me,” “declutter me.” Right here, in sunny, wonderful San Diego, the only thing I have to declutter is my mind. Accepting victory, I acknowledge that I’ve once again I dueled the evil Edgar. On this gloriously sunny Monday, mine is the victory.