Chapter 10018

Morning let me snooze on the last day, my last day as a writing retreat center intern -- whatever that means -- and I'd not written about it once, or taken stock since I’d arrived fifty-two days prior, and I hadn't packed either, what the hell? My chill, roller-coaster thrill ride pulled into the station fast and tired. Soft and loud, like the blanket draped over me and the light coming through the holes in my curtains.

Usually, the sun would wake me as soon as it rose, tinting the fog with a silvery gold that leeched out the cold. But I remained still in my bed that last day until eight, and eyed my belongings with unbelievable hate.

Most of my stuff was strewn. Some things dangled. Not that I had much, but it looked like a lot.

Nothing was packed. No alarm had been set. I'd not bothered to prepare a schedule, let alone fall behind, and it wasn't sad or rushed -- I simply packed my stuff, gave out some hugs, found my shoes, and wrote a thank you card with as much earnestness as I could muster. 

Sarah and Steve, the co-founders of the Wellstone Center, sat with me to say their peace and I listened carefully because they use specific words when they speak. I didn't express my gratitude sufficiently as usual, but they took it fine, and I think they already realized that I'm no good at goodbyes or whatever. I only cried when Sally the Dog barked and whined, but soon she left with Sarah to go into town and I meandered aimless in the house.

Whew and dang. 

Gee, wow, and other interjections interrupted me as I walked out for the last time and sat on the stone steps in the heat. The ocean beckoned happily from the horizon, the drive down and away from the Wellstone gleamed like a brick road painted yellow. I nodded at it all, put socks on for the first time in a month and laced my shoes over top of them, lazily.

Steve came out and put on his own shoes. 

"What route are you taking?" He asked. 

I hadn't considered it, so he suggested, "Go down Highway 1 and stop outside Point Lobos. You're leaving early enough you could run in and out before the crowds." 

I told him I would with the same conviction I told him I'd keep in touch. He shook my hand, gave me a hug, and left. I sat there.

Everyone else at the center was busy and I'd had an incredible seeing-off a couple days before at Panther Beach. So much had happened during my stay, but I had other places to be, few moments to write ahead of me and none for worry. The only problem I had was an off feeling, an uncertainty.

I stood on the drive and looked around.

In the orchard, on the ground, was the avocado tree I was meant to plant two days before (or maybe more). I grinned and swore, then ran to find a shovel. The tools were out, so I straightened up and noticed a watering can near the stairs. Oh no.

I hadn't watered Janette yet... Nor had I fed Joan the Cat! And it was nearly eleven, almost half my work day was over and... the goats yelled.

It broke the spell.

I walked over and eyed them with the shovel in my right hand and the watering can in my left. We'd always gotten along, but I knew Butterfingers would knife me in a dark alley if she ever got the chance and Doris would only intervene if the knife was edible.

Doris blinked at me with rhombus eyes. Butterfingers crapped a handful of black pellets and said, "What the hell are you still doing here?"

"I'm not finished," I told her.

She rolled her eyes. Doris said, "Mhaaaaaa!"

I planted and watered the avocado tree in about twelve minutes, got in my car and coasted down Amigo Road in under five, and drove without the radio for an hour before I pulled over. Highway 1 follows the coast, and it's worth the time it takes to drive no matter where you're coming from or going. For whatever reason, I've always driven up highway 1 on a high and down on a low. Either way it's beautiful, so I let myself wallow in whatever was upsetting me, then I examined my surroundings.

A sign ahead said: Point Lobos.