Before I got on the plane, I had a second irritation. My Mary’s 60th birthday was this week and I had gifts and cards ready to mail at the airport post office. I was proud of myself to be ahead of the game for a change and had the package ready to mail – just in time to arrive on the big day. Too bad the airport post office no longer existed.
The four-hour flight was long in the cramped quarters of the jet and by the time it landed I was ready to just call it a day. I was somewhat revived when I arrived at my hotel overlooking the Pacific at Mission Bay. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
I remembered the birthday package and realized with the time change, I could make the afternoon’s mail. I drove the rental car through unique villages on the bay to the post office. Standing in line, I asked the young girl in front of me for a good spot for dinner. Although alone, I wasn’t lonely as I dined and watched surfers on the waves, joggers on the beach, and pedestrians on the walkways. I’m convinced that half of California spends a part of the day engaging in outside activity.
On my way back to the hotel, I passed The Broken Yolk Café and made a mental note for a breakfast destination. The next morning, I arrived at a thriving, hopping and bustling breakfast joint. As I often do when I’m alone, I sat at the counter. It’s like being at a family reunion.
The Broken Yolk was Jerry’s Country Kitchen on steroids – or the Varsity’s rendition of a breakfast club. Cooks and servers moved through narrow spaces like a well-oiled machine. My eggs were cooked perfectly and the fruit bowl overflowed with fresh, ripe fruits. My waitress was the kind of California Girl that the Beach Boys memorialized in song — tall, blond, tanned, and sporting a million dollar smile.
When we started chatting, she immediately noticed my Southern accent. I told her that I time on my hands and asked for her opinion on what to do. “Without a doubt, you have to go to Balboa Park. You will love it.”
After paying the bill, I left for a day of adventure with renewed spirit.
My first stop was the Coronado Hotel. I thought I was prepared for the majesty and beauty of the place but was taken aback by the grandeur of the property. I felt my inner-Marilyn tickling my spirits as I remembered her role as Sugar Kane in “Some Like it Hot.”
As directed, I drove along the beach and received a call from my friend, Pancho. He’s a long-time ski buddy and was checking up on me. When I told him I was by myself in San Diego, he suggested I call Becky Robins. The three of us were in the same ski group several years ago and he felt sure that she would appreciate the call. After several messages back and forth, Becky and I agreed to meet in La Jolla late afternoon.
Finally, I reached Balboa Park and it lived up to its reputation. I toured the Japanese Gardens and even took a special tour to the part under construction. Talk about patience. It can take up to 20 years of growing and pruning for the trees and shrubs to fully develop into a lush garden.
After touring some of the museums and the United Nations houses, I arrived at the main corridor of the park. Local vendors lined the walkway. There was a tent of Hare Krishna monks chanting and singing right next to devout Christians proclaiming the grace of Christianity. Right next door was a tent manned by an atheist telling folks to “Relax, hell and heaven do not exist.”
Next up were street performers with a sign out front that read “WARNING – children left unattended will be sold to the circus!” I grinned as I remembered how I longed to join the circus as a kid. And then, I saw what I figured was predestined for my day — a real live, honest-to-goodness, scarf-draped, chain-laden fortune teller! I’m not telling what she told me, but those of you who have been concerned about my future can relax! It’s looking mighty promising according to my palm, and the Tarot and Angel cards.
After a late afternoon reunion with Becky, I met my client in Little Italy for dinner.
Back in my room, energized and exhausted, I reflected on the day. I realized that the best days show up when I have no plans and that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. Maybe we all could remember that the next time plans go awry or we find ourselves on our own.
Garrett, a Carroll County resident, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian. Share your adventures with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.