So I returned from Tahoe and thus the end was nigh. Irish Eric tried to convince me that I should just take a plane back to the wedding I had to go to and then come back for a while longer, and he made me hesitate for a few minutes before I realized how little I had in the savings account...
It was time to say good bye.
So I went to my bar. That's right MY bar. The one I stopped into a few times in Petaluma for "lunch." I'm a creature of habit. It can not be helped. Plus the bartender was this cool hippy guy. Hawaiian shirt every day, long silver hair and a weed smokers head bob. "Yeah Man." You know the guy. I'm sure you can picture him in your head.
I broke the news as gently as possible. "I'll get the usual Pliny the Elder, it's my last one in Petaluma."
"Awww maaaannnn where ya headed?"
"I'm riding off into the ....uh...sunRISE...I guess?"
Platonically speaking, I love so many people. Just the way they are themselves and they couldn't help it if they tried. I just can't help smiling about it. I have a lot of students that are bursting through their skin that way this year. It's so hard to be the mean teacher when it happens. I just get excited to know how people tick. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets confused with flirtation...
...Case in point, bartender hands over the pint and chats me up about all of his adventures and asks about mine. Then, a long haired surfer dude aged by the sun and the sea walks in and takes a seat leaving a chair between us. That didn't last long.
We were watching a rebroadcast of a soccer match. The teams escape me now, but it was definitely international. Surfer dude notices me watching and starts a conversation. Darn I love talking about soccer. So few people do it. It's such a treasure to find people who know anything about the sport! Here I go again! I wonder all about this guy because, honestly, what kind of American knows this much about the world's sport?! Weird Americans do...trust me, I'm one of them.
So that chair between us...it went missing. Found out SO much about this guy. I should have known he was a teacher, who else shows up at a bar midafternoon besides teachers and bums?! Found out he was a surfer, and like all Californians, quite the hippy outdoorsman. Just absolutely awesome conversation. Such an interesting person, who told me so much about so many interesting places. We shared teaching stories and I learned that there are so many different things between the east and the west coast and yet so many things are the same. The people are DEFINITELY my favorite part of the trip, and it was time to go on and meet other people from other places...
Told him if I ever came back to California he needed to teach me how to surf. Like a few people I have met on the road, I exchanged information so we could keep in touch. Bartender sent his love and paid my tab and I was off and away from my beloved Petaluma.
2 minutes out the door I started receiving some pretty interesting text messages:
I didn't count this long haired hippy into the flirting category, mainly because he was a little older than I feel would be within the approved range for me...Is that rude? I don't know, but I didn't even think of this conversation in these terms. Gets me into trouble sometimes. I won't even start to tell you about the time I accidentally went on a date with an old Asian guy...
( I don't remember what was "best of all," but I'm sad I cut it out. I'm just as curious as you are.)
And then there are those people who I run into from time to time that try to send out a compliment and then CRASH AND BURN. Thanks for calling me peculiar...
It reminds me of the time this guy told me I must be a runner, "I can tell" he said, as I puffed up a little with pride until he said "Yeah, I can definitely tell. You have those tree-trunk legs."
"Thanks I guess?!?"
Love notes from strangers. You never know what will happen!