As you pass the M Resort on St. Rose Parkway and Las Vegas Blvd., you can’t miss the neon sign announcing “Hotel California,” an Eagles tribute show.
Of course, that leads me to thinking about the Bay Area and how after living there for 22 years, we left for several years and then returned for a year.
While living there this last time, I documented our adventures (you can read them on the Hotel California page), and I started writing this novel, a work-in-progress. I also called it “Hotel California.”
But it all started working and living in San Francisco as a “San Francisco Mad Woman.”
Kim read the quote on the back of the coffee mug she’d purchased at the Cliff House, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco–the coolest thing Mark Twain never said.”
Still, she felt it could be true. Kim knew from the past that “The City” was more than cold—it was heartless. But she’d been gone for too long and had experienced many diverse cultures with a longing to return to what was familiar. She had forgotten just how cold heartlessness could be.
It was present in the clang clang of the Trolley car filled with newly-arrived techie superstars from distant countries. It was present in the grocery store when they asked “Do you need a bag?” It was present in the cemeteries that were located outside of The City. It was present in the expensive, tiny, impersonal condos where neighbors spoke to nobody and the lifelessness was palpable on the empty balconies overlooking the Bay.
It wouldn’t take long for The City to remind Kim how impossible it was to warm yourself when you wrap yourself in cold.
The morning pine-scented, smoky air was glorious as Kim sat out on the back deck sipping her morning coffee under the tall trees in Northern California. It felt good to be back home after moving across the country and around the world more times than she cared to recall.
Her stomach rumbled reminding her she hadn’t anything since the cheese crackers she’d had with last night’s wine. She grabbed her purse and keys, locked up, and walked through the courtyard to the nearby gourmet coffee shop. After browsing the selections beneath the glass window, she picked out a pastry and ordered another cup of coffee. She took her selections to an outside patio and sat down.
An older woman sat next to her with a small child she would have guessed was her grandson. A sense of longing filled Kim’s heart, thinking about how lucky the woman was to have something worthwhile fill her days, instead of roaming emotionally like Kim had been doing since she’d turned fifty last year.
There was something about that age that said you were moving into a different stage of your life, that you were invisible, and that your life was over. Unless you found a new venture of some kind. But what would that be?
She’d already changed careers in her forties, she’d traveled and moved to several places, including overseas. Been there and done that, as they say. Somebody had also said that fifty is the year you become invisible and she knew from experience that her life seemed aimless, directionless and she had to idea how to spend her days, let alone her nights.
Marriage was something she’d ditched back then to make all of what came after happen. But now she realized how lonely it was with nobody to share her life with. Not that she should have stayed with Steve—no, he was emotionally abusive, similar to what she had known growing up. The subtle kind of abuse where they put you down with a big smile on their face, the face they show to the world so that nobody believes you when you try to explain what happened.
Heavy in her heart, thought about her life and the choices she had made. How if she’d made a different choice, that could have been K sitting there with a grandchild if she hadn’t given in to the pressure of others.
She’d been so obsessed by not revealing her secrets that she hadn’t realize that other people had secrets, too. It was the focus on self that blinded her to other people and that led her to danger. She’d been running ever since.
I seemed to have lost my passion for writing much more of this story after we left the Bay Area again, but lately I’ve been drawn to this story and reminiscing about the Bay Area so maybe I will continue working on it. Music has been taking up so much of my time lately, but maybe it’s time to get back to writing fiction.