Last week while waiting for the restroom in the San Rafael Public Library, I had another one of those moments when I realized I was taking life to be too small. Under conditions of urgency, it’s natural to take a narrow focus, but I was adding extra bother because the person in the restroom was taking such a long time. What are they doing in there, I wondered, taking a shower?
That turned out to be close to the truth. There’s a lot of squabbling in Marin County about the right way to handle resources for homeless folks. In this case, the man who came in off the street to wash up wasn’t turned away, and I was glad for that. But even before I figured out what was going on, I thought it might be interesting to back off tapping my impatient, entitled foot and take a look around.
The restroom is near one of my favorite parts of the library — the turning carousels of trade paperbacks that are only loosely organized by authors’ last names. Standing in front of one of these treasure troves makes me feel like I’m playing an old carnival game. Spin the wheel, win a prize.
What fell immediately to hand was a book first published in 1955 called Gift From the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Though more aware of her famous and also philandering husband, Charles, I had at least heard of this book enough times to wonder why I’d never read it. When I flipped through the introduction, I figured I hadn’t because I never needed it as much as I do now:
[A]s I went on writing and simultaneously talking with other women, young and old, with different lives and experiences — those who supported themselves, those who wished careers, those who were hard-working housewives and mothers, and those with more ease — I found that my point of view was not unique . . . . Even those whose lives had appeared to be ticking imperturbably under their smiling, clock-faces were often trying, like me, to evolve another rhythm with more creative pauses in it, more adjustment to their individual needs, and new and more alive relationships to themselves as well as others.
I felt as though the hand of a friend had reached across a space of more than sixty years and lightly touched my shoulder.
The photos are from a quick overnight getaway to Bolinas and Stinson Beach last weekend. I’d be a little embarrassed to say how long it took Stewart and me to catch on to “No Stradamus,” on the bulletin board outside the Parkside Cafe. (Where they serve an excellent breakfast including local Graffeo coffee, by the way.)