Amblin' Alameda: Home again, home again

Amblin' Alameda: Home again, home again

Morton Chalfy

For professional reasons, my sweetie had to attend a conference in a spiffy spa/hotel in Monterey. For personal reasons (driving, aiding in getting around, fetching and carrying and general errandry and companionship) I accompanied her. We drove down there on Thursday and back again on Sunday, and boy was I happy to get back home. Home to our cool house and waiting cats, and home to Alameda.

Monterey is nice, sort of, and travel broadens one's outlook. In our case it exposed us to more tattoos and nose rings than we usually see, but if that's what seems attractive to today's young people more power to them. I won't be in the homes for the elderly in 2060 when the tattoos now proudly displayed on taut bodies will be lost in the wrinkles and folds of those same bodies 45 years hence, so I'm indifferent to their appearance except in some clinical way.

Monterey's attractions include pods of seals and sea lions who entertained us during the night by calling out to one another and provoking the seagulls to join the cacophony - interesting from a “music of the natural world” standpoint, though less so at three in the morning. It also attracts young travelers from around the world who give the streets an international flavor, albeit slightly scruffy in appearance.

Attending a conference is hard work as one is on a schedule. The schedule can be harrying. One has to be ready to absorb lots of information during the presentations and then hie oneself to the next presenter. All at great expense, of course, and away from home and its comforts.

I really love the ride along the coast. The Pacific is only occasionally glimpsed, but the hills we drove through are beautifully sculpted and interestingly foliaged. We passed through artichoke country, strawberry fields and cherry orchards (cherries are in season right now), which were all set against a backdrop of sere golden hillsides. The landscape is so full of meaning, thoughts continued to spin out from it as we glided by at 75 mph. There is a raw harshness about the geography that gives me the impression it was extremely difficult to carve homes and farms from its material.

But soon the road led us into the built-up areas around Oakland and then over the High Street Bridge into the quiet greenery of Alameda. The feeling of relaxation started immediately on our side of the bridge and grew as we neared our house. Coming home feels great - the house is cool inside, particularly in contrast to the heat we'd been driving through, and we gratefully collapsed in our own chairs.

The cats gave us the indifferent treatment. They ignored us for a while, to punish us for having gone away, I guess, but eventually came to get their pets and forgive us our trespasses. I could almost hear their imagined thoughts: “So, Mr. Traveler, do you believe us now? There's no place like home.”

Yes, I believe you now.