We left the lake on Sunday and drove back to my brother’s house in Marin County. He has a cute place with an outdoor lounge, where I gather he spends most of his time when he is home. You step out the back door and into it. The roof of the house continues, as if it were another room, and it is furnished as if it were a room inside the house: there is a carpet, a coffee table, a couch, an armchair and a rocking chair.
One of my brother’s roommates is a photographer and landscaper and has a gorgeous vegetable and flower garden growing in the backyard all around the lounge. The garden has the look of something let free to grow wild while being lovingly cared for at the same time. I caught my brother out there in the morning, with his coffee and his cigarette, looking at the flowers and tomatoes in the soft morning light. His life there made me want to live in the Bay Area too.
He lives near a state park overlooking the bay, and that is where we ran together. He cycles and runs on the trails that crisscross the golden hills particular to Northern California, through Eucalyptus groves and Redwoods, rising steeply and then opening up to offer you a view of the water and, if there is no fog, the bridges over the bay.
All spring he was training for the San Francisco marathon and he sent me the picture at the top of this page so I could know where he ran in the evenings after work. While I was there, he and I went for our runs early in the morning and although the view wasn’t quite as spectacular, those morning runs were magical: two sets of footsteps on the trail, the smell of pine needles and eucalyptus bark mixed with the dry California grass and so m any deer and turkeys; we sometimes had to stop and wait for them to pass.
My sister had been telling us about an article she read on siblings, and how your siblings are often the people who know you best: they are the only people who know you your entire life. On our second run, two mountain bikers passed us as we were about to start a climb and we let them go ahead, then one of them asked us if we wanted to pass and I thought, “Damn, now I’ll have to pass them.” At the same time, my brother thought, “Damn, now she’ll have to pass them.” And of course we did.
I spent the first part of the week back and forth between my brother’s place and my grandmother’s home in Walnut Creek, where my sister was staying with her baby. We had quiet days, taking Grandma out to lunch and to do her grocery shopping. She pushed the cart with her great-grandson in it and all the other grandparents in the store flocked over to see the world’s most adorable baby and tell her about their own. Then, my sister and I took the baby for a stroll around the neighborhood while Grandma rested or watched the ball game. We found a little grouping of lawn chairs in the shade of Redwoods not far from Grandma’s house and we sat there one day, feeding my nephew pieces of the morning bread we’d bought the day before at a coffee place in Fairfax.
We took turns going out: one night I took Bart into the city to meet a friend from high school for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly 20 years. Two nights later my sister drove over to Berkeley for dinner with a friend who’d been her college roommate.
And then it was time to pack up and move into the apartment my sister had rented in San Francisco, at the corner of Dolores Park.