6:30 am and my funny little rental car is buzzing along the freeway toward Denver. I'm shoving a blueberry muffin into my muffinhole (my friend had made them and
set the timer on the coffee pot for me), when I am rocked by the most tremendous sunrise. It was as if there was a whole army on the other side of the Rocky Mountains whose job it was to slowly push heaping gobs of pink cotton candy up and over the peaks. The candy clouds just kept rolling and rolling, until the entire horizon was full of fluffy pinky dollops. I cried! That was also probably due to the fact that the radio was playing Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" at the time.
Gonna ramble on, sing my song
Gotta keep-a-searchin for my baby...
Gonna work my way, round the world
I can't stop this feelin in my heart
Gotta keep searchin for my baby
I can't find my bluebird!
Great way to start the day.
Last night after the reading in Boulder, I went for dinner with some of my friend's friends. One woman, Miriam, was Spanish and so befuddled by the entire self-help concept. She kept saying, "I am from Galicia! My family is from Galicia!" (She also had that awesome Catalan lisp thing going Galeethia.) "For generations and generations we come from Galicia! If I ever feel like I don't know who I am, my mother will tell me! My aunts and sisters will tell me! I can walk through my town and then I remember who I am!"
Of course I realize that there's a lot more to self-improvement than having a strong sense of self. People want to work on specific issues like time management skills or jealousy or whatever, but I was digging her confidence. She admits she goes through bouts of existential angst and insecurity, but her overarching sense of who she is and where she came from always wins out in the end. "It is the ugly beauty of the life," she said, raising her eyes to the rafters and shrugging her tiny shoulders. (One of my favorite headlines ever from The Onion was something like "Writers Think People Shrug More Often Than They Really Do".)
Anyway, what she was saying really struck me because I strongly identify with being from the Bay Area. The malls of the Silicon Valley, the ranch-style tract homes, the Santa Cruz beaches, the bars and clubs of San Francisco, the BART stations and freeways, the parks filled with eucalyptus trees, the grocery stores packed with amazing produce. I feel like all those things are a huge part of me, and that I am somehow a part of all those things. It gives me a great confidence when I'm out dingdonging around in the world. And when I get to see a sunrise like I did this morning, it slays me to be part of such an unfamiliar landscape. Because I know where I'm from, I feel all right when I'm somewhere different or weird. Physically and mentally.
Didn't mean to get so out there. Okay, my plane is boarding for Austin now. Goodbye, Powell's. I will see you in the real world next week at my reading.