Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the next best thing to being rescued by village children

So, my 2010 New Year’s resolution is to be less anxious. I know you’re supposed to make concrete resolutions (AK resolved to track all the books she reads on Goodreads), but this feels like a resolution whose time has come. To get a tiny bit more specific: I resolve not to conflate worry (oh-my-god-I-might-have-cancer) with preparation (hey-why-don’t-I-make-a-doctor’s-appointment).

It’s still 2009, but I got to practice not freaking out when AK’s car overheated on the way home from San Luis Obispo, where we spent an otherwise fun post-Christmas weekend. Of course we were on one of the few really desolate stretches of the 101. When it became clear we weren’t going to make it to a gas station, we turned onto a dirt road that led to something called the El Camino Winery. I put on my best not-freaking-out voice, which never fools AK. We contemplated our options, and AK called AAA.

My friend Jody once found himself in Guatemala without a place to stay. He curled up by the side of the road, and when he woke up, a handful of children were carrying him to their village, talking to him in a language that wasn’t Spanish. They fed him and set him up in a hammock. He had a great trip.

I am not Jody. Even though we were in California with credit cards and fully charged cell phones, it wasn’t long before I felt my insides spinning into a tight little tornado and possibly making a high pitched whining sound perceptible only to dogs. Especially when:
  • We discovered we had no water with which to cool down the engine.
  • The sun went down.
  • The winery gate suddenly swung shut.
  • My bladder decided it could not wait to find this elusive gas station.
The tow truck driver saved the day when he discovered a still-open back entrance (pulling up just as I was pulling my pants up), and again when he agreed to tow us to Santa Maria at no extra charge. AK’s college friend Ryan drove down from San Luis—a 33-mile drive he’d already done once that day for work—and let us spend the night at his house. AK’s friend Chris loaned us his truck the next morning. We drove to Santa Maria, watched It’s Complicated (really good relationship movie, with a few too many warmly-lit shots of people laughing and baking croissants in beautiful houses) while Howard the mechanic installed a new radiator. Thanks to the kindness of strangers and friends, freaking out never totally won out.

“You’re good for me,” I told AK. “If left to my own devices, I would have hovered all day next to the repair shop, biting my nails.”

“And I would have driven twenty miles to hang out at Pismo Beach,” said AK, “so we balance each other out.”

A good photojournalist would have taken pictures of the winery gate and the tow truck and the closed café we ate leftover burritos in front of—or at least taken pictures of our sainthood-worthy friends—but I just took pics of all the fun stuff we did before things got crazy:

Lunching with Lori in Santa Barbara on the way up.

Jogging and doing nerdy yoga poses at Montana de Oro.

Eating at all our favorite spots.

Enjoying local art.

Enjoying local eccentricity at the Madonna Inn--we didn't stay there, but luckily they let non-guests hang out in the lobby and enjoy the giant faux rock fireplace.

Sketching.

Visiting the Apple Farm--an aggressively quaint hotel that carries every product Paula Deen ever stamped her face on--and befriending a large, worried-looking reindeer.
Hiking (halfway) to Bishop's Peak.

Checking out the pelicans and beachcombers at Pismo.

Preemptively partaking in a little comfort food. I think we would go on to earn it.

1 comment:

Claire said...

I go for themes more than resolutions these days, but if I'd known keeping track of books (also movies?) could qualify, then I would've done those because I'm doing awesome on both. :)

"Jogging and doing nerdy yoga poses at Montana de Oro"
It wouldn't have occurred to me that that pose could look nerdy but you've managed it wonderfully! And bonus, I really like Montana de Oro. :)

Good for you for not totally freaking out about the car. I've had that what do I do now my car's busted? experience too. With no cell phone! Actually, it's among my fave bits of writing and there's even more to the story than in the blog because it would probably have seemed even more incredible.

I'm glad the rest of your trip looked fun though.

Happy new year!