uncharted territory

i left santa barbara knowing that, aside from my plan to be in sarasota for my grandmother’s birthday at the end of november, the wedding weekend in sb was the last firm marker for my roadtrip that started back in august.

since then, i have been in napa, staying at the apartment of my sister erika’s boyfriend, marshall, in downtown napa. the days here have been sunny and lovely without exception (till today). last weekend we went to san francisco for the bluegrass festival, hardly strictly bluegrass, which takes place in golden gate park. marshall and his boss/best friend drew had to work a street fair in neighboring st. helena, selling their product, the soiree – which is an aerator that fits onto wine bottles and aerates as you pour (really works!). after an evening wandering the little main street of that town, tasting wine and other local yummies, we headed back to marsh’s place to pick up some things and drove to the city.

that friday night we planned to stay at the house of marshall’s friends, antonette and bryan. they welcomed us with margaritas and good company and we stayed up late into the night playing guitars and talking. the next day we all went to a lovely brunch along the water not far from the potrero area where they live and did some damage to some endless mimosas.

antonette and bryan – a loving grope

me n marshall

after brunch we made our way to the festival and found some of bryan’s friends when i realized my cousin, laura, was at the same festival and even at the same stage. we met up and enjoyed the cowboy junkies before she and her husband moved to a different act and i went to see my new friend dan to see the head and the heart. it was a perfect day – warm and sunny as san francisco frequently is not inclined to be.

so cute! ate my dried mangoes like a little squirrel 🙂

me n my cuz!

massachusetts represent

after the festival, marshall and i made our way to my friend’s house for another party – it was a long and cabless walk and then we tried to get the bus and failed because we had no change. it made me miss new york, but in the end we shared a cab with a couple of lovely women we met and made it there. my friend ashley and her husband, another marshall, were having a house warming party at their new apartment in the marina area. we had snacks and drinks and played music before marshall and i had to move on. a cab took us to where drew was staying – a house party of burners in town for the burning man decompression party happening the following day.

the party was duly wild and all were having a great time – until i arose from my seat on the balcony and discovered, too late, that my foot was asleep and most uncooperative. the darn thing turned under me and left me hobbling all night and the next day for decompression.

party pants drew and feathered hat marsh – with faux orchids

we got  slow start and the rest of the house was getting gussied up bman style for the party. i hadn’t thought to grab anything from my burning man trousseau for the event, so i just wore my fedora and my limp, but the party was full of people in strange costume. i was at no loss people watching and keeping to my blanket instead of roaming around. there was a booth next to us, which we kept expecting to start playing loud music, but which it turned out was a silent disco: a place where the music could only be heard if you were wearing headphones. people were dancing to silence as the lights came on around us and music from further areas thumped loudly.

marshall and i headed out after sunset, walking down an avenue of roller discos and an art car dance party complete with giant moving masts that rocked steel carousel horses below, all of it covered with riders and dancers in full regalia. but we had to go. we walked (limped) back to our car and got dinner at goat hill pizza in potrero before leaving town.

the last couple of days i have spent lounging in drew’s yard, sunning and reading – living the life of an unemployed person, without the nuisance of looking for work. i started reading a novel that was my sister erika’s: the first man in rome. one of those historical novels that goes for nearly 1000 pages, but sucks you in so completely, you are happy to live within its confines. between reading and sunning i also made fried green tomatoes (yum!) from drew’s garden for lunch one day, and a savory bread pudding for dinner one night that i was most pleased with. it is fun to have a kitchen and mouths to feed, especially after my last 2 plus months of nomading it. drew’s house in the vineyard is most tranquil and fun,  made more so by 29, a tiny little terrier with tons of spunk, whom drew’s roommate found abandoned by highway 29 and rescued. truly adorable. luckily i am no longer limping and can frolic with her. however, today the beautiful weather broke and i hid inside from the grey misty skies.

tonight marshall and i had planned to go to erika’s former condo, which is still pretty full of her belongings and books. after a truly delish falafel, we went to her house where her subletters, all friendly french people in napa for the wine business, were there, drinking with friends and preparing to go out to dinner.

it was strange to be on her street, to recognize it and her area in general. the only other time i was ever there was right after she died. i couldn’t help but remember the kindnesses of her neighbors who came to check on us and feed us. the house still bears her mark, though it is fading. only one of the current renters was brought on by her, the others having moved on and new ones moved in. none of the others had known her, though they lived with her things, her garden, her pantry still somewhat stocked with things she had bought before burning man last year. we took what we could of her books and other small items of hers around the house. eggs she had blown for easter, clove oranges she must have made for christmas 2010. being there has brought back many memories, mostly tough ones, but also good ones. in many ways, it was one of the goals of my trip and it feels very much like a completed circle. sorry for the heaviness. such is life.

this weekend will see me in oakland with my friend shannon, where we will write and talk and generally have a blast. and then i will go south for a bit to see some more of so-cal. later in the month my friend julian will join me for a couple of weeks of camping and rambling before i start to head back towards the east. so my birthday will be spent camping, most likely, and not in new york city as i had thought might come to pass.

well that was a bit of a roller coaster of a post – and i am rather . . . exhausted.

love and miss


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