(today's word is FOG)
Fog, when it creeps onto the highway between Utah and Idaho, is an evil menace. It slithers and hovers and traps us miles and miles below the sun. I remember the eternal night I stood at my bedroom window staring at my reflection , unable to see past the outer side of the windowpane for the dense fog. It had settled in a massive swath between home and southeastern Idaho, where my mother and sister Libby had been visiting. They were due home by !0:00 pm, but I had not heard from them for hours. I stood there, cradling my new baby Kate, to whom we would be giving a name and a blessing the next morning. I stood at the window through the long foggy night and prayed. These were the days before cell phones. They pulled into the driveway, making their way through the thick soup of mist and air just before church started. I was so relieved I cried. Sometimes the juxtaposition of wonderful moments bedding down with frightful ones is just so exhausting. They had inched their way home, taking all night to travel a couple hundred miles. That kind of fog is not the misty scene of dreams. Dreamy fog belongs to San Francisco.
My sister Sherry, for the portion of my life I can remember best, lived in the Bay Area of California. The place fit her personality. She was hip and world wise, yet warm and generous and so embracing. As a fourteen year old, with a newly discovered body that had hips and curves, I found that internal buzz came alive at Sherry’s. The energy of traffic, the groove of the music of the 70’s wafting through the trees in McArthur Park, painted rocks sold on street corners – ones that sported round Happy Faces with scoops of smiles. There was Cost Plus, with its miles of aisles full of wonderfulness…things you couldn’t find anywhere else…things that were fresh and new and a bargain to boot! Ghirardelli chocolate and fresh crab bought on the wharf, with a warm loaf of sourdough bread tucked under the arm. The clanging bell of the streetcars and tummy turning curves of Lombard Street. We bought Gunne Sax dresses from the outlet store, and other trinkets from the shops in Berkley. I was completely at home in my hip hugger bell bottom Levi’s and genuine deer skin moccasins Mom had bought from the Trading Post in Blackfoot.
The sun had an intimate relationship with the fog of San Francisco. They danced with each other, the one settling over the shoulders of bare armed ladies, just enough to have them go back in the house and grab a sweater. But by the time they got out to the sidewalk the sun had burned off the fog and the sweater was unnecessary. That sweet ocean air kind of fog makes you take a deeper breath just to taste the flavor of wanderlust. It cooled the nights, and settled the evenings, inviting the host of people gathered under that large golden gate of western America to snuggle together and dreamily settle down.
Years ago, on a foggy Thanksgiving day in Alameda, I laid my head in the lap of my boyfriend as he sat on the floor of Sherry’s condo. The window was open slightly, and we could hear the lapping of the water on the beach across the street from her place. That was the moment when he bent his head down and kissed me. Twice. And then he asked if I would marry him, with words only Dave would string together. It took me a minute. My head was a bit foggy, I suppose. “Are you asking me to marry you? “ I said, sitting up and looking him square in the eye. He smiled and raised his eyebrows.
Later that night we walked along the beach there by Sherry’s place. We wet our feet on the ocean sand and watched our footprints disappear. I took a driftwood stick and wrote CORI LOVES DAVE in the hard pressed sand, but the fog rolled in and by morning it was gone. Not the love…just the sign. No fog nor wave nor crawling creature nor sandcastle maker will take away the love. That will forever remain.