Our casually alliterative title this morning comes not from any impending nasal diphtheria – at least we hope not – but rather our reaction to those little, sunlit moments that come along in life every so often and, if you are lucky, several times in a week.
Like this week.
It has been a rather tough week, with good people calling their shot and leaving us – never willingly but sometimes in rather beautiful, life-affirming ways. It’s a common enough experience, loss, so there’s no need to get into the imponderables of our time on this earth and what we do with it in this column. Everyone deals with it in their own way.
We’ll just say that it was during our return to Marin County this week, dressed in funereal black, seeing familiar childhood places roll past our windows and suppressing a feeling of guilt as we reveled in a warming California sun one good man would never feel again that we began to see it all, what it means to be alive – and lucky enough to be whole and well.
That’s about when Spotify, randomly supplying the background music for our journey into the past, kicked into Heavenly Choir Mode and gave us Janis and Big Brother – ripping up “Piece of My Heart” as familiar venues where we played and listened to The Airplane and Canned Heat and made midnight runs to Stinson Beach rolled past and people we knew and loved looked up at us – and smiled.
Rounding a bend in the road, sunburned bikers pausing to let little Italian ladies laden with groceries cross the road, and seeing the church steeple where we’d gone so many times for so many weddings and so many funerals, seeing the line of classic cars waiting to give the man we’d come to say goodbye to his farewell procession – a 350 cubic inch, Five Thunderbird Salute. That made us smile, too.
Other stories, other moments made us smile this week: the Never Say Die shoplifter with the broken leg who hopped into a local store to grab some booze, the Loss Prevention people admiring his pluck and almost sorry to have to bust him; Freeway Nudists – people who for whatever reason enjoy the reaction they get from others when they strip off the confining bonds of the modern world and run along a busy freeway; the homeless guy living in a carefully constructed cardboard shack – a recycled, maybe stolen “Welcome” mat carefully positioned outside.
People. Hanging on. Just grinding it out – some in multi-million dollar castles, some in discarded refrigerator boxes.
And then there was the Golf Course Grenadier – or Orangier, we guess would be more appropriate – a woman who reportedly spent her Saturday harassing golfers on the San Ramon Golf Course links, throwing an orange at one unlucky Putter Pusher until police were summoned to counsel her.
Another Golden Moment for us came when the man running our Flash Alert system forwarded information from two of the several dozen people signing up for our digital news alerts – each with detailed instructions on where to throw “your paper.”
“I’ve included my subscription for your newspaper (Ed. Which, in case you didn’t know, is pushed digitally to your smartphone),” one wrote. “Please tell your delivery person to leave it in the driveway to the right of (address withheld for obvious reasons). I live in the house around the back.”
“I almost wish we could print it out, roll it up and send it to her” our Flash Master said, and we had to agree, enjoying the crossover moment from Old to New and picking the words we would use in our letter of explanation to the subscriber.
It was just that kind of week. Grinding it out. Hanging on.