Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Back to Home Base

And so it ends, our week in the Northwest. It was difficult to say goodbye to Diane today and head back to California.

We had a quiet morning. Did the usual stuff we'd been doing, but with the overtones of "last day...last day...last day..." We got the bed stripped, managed to fit all of Peggy's purchases into a box, Peggy showed Diane more stuff on her computer, the two of them got their coffee and smokes and went to the patio. I wrapped in a blanket and joined them. We watched the squirrel cavort on the lawn, eating the bread Peggy had thrown out for him.

Mary Williams, my Compuserve "other daughter" and her 3 year old Emily arrived to be our chauffeur. We got all our stuff into Mary's van and then drove down to the waterfront in Edmonds to have a last lunch overlooking Puget Sound.

We had a little time (or so we thought) after lunch, so we walked down to Mary's favorite beach. Talk about breathtaking. Mary and Emily stopped in a playground area while Peggy and I walked to the beach itself, where you get a 180 degree panorama of mountains, water, ferries, and wildlife. I took this picture of Peggy with Mt. Baker in the background, but the mountain doesn't show up too well in this size:

And then we drove to the airport. Though we arrived one hour ahead, as we had when we left Sacramento, the line to get boarding numbers for Southwest Airlines (which does not give seat assignments, so it's definitely first come, first serve) was already quite long. We were #70 and 71, which meant we'd be in the third wave of boarders. We thought we might not be able to sit together, but we were able to get seats in the "lounge" area (that means two banks of seats facing each other) right at the front of the plane. I never sit there because it means playing kneesies with total strangers, but since it was Peggy and me, it was comfortable to sit across from each other and if knees bumped, it was with a friend, not with a stranger. And the perks include getting your drink and peanuts first, and being first off the plane.

We picked up our luggage in Sacramento's new terminal. The first time I saw this place I got a fit of the giggles. Some clever architect decided that instead of putting in supporting pillers to the ceiling, he would make the "pillers" look like stacks of baggage. They are really quite clever, and it's fun to look at what's in the stacks, which may include things like golf clubs and other easily identifiable items.

We caught the Davis Airporter shuttle back home, which dropped us at the door. Kimba was quite happy to see us. And then, since Walt was in San Francisco with the car, we walked to the supermarket to get food for dinner. I am amazed at my attitude about walking since Peggy's been here. I don't get as winded, I don't mind walking--in fact, I enjoy it. And best of all, I wasn't really keeping track, but it seems that without changing my eating habits at all, I've dropped 8 lbs since she arrived nearly 6 weeks ago.

We had a nice dinner and then managed to find Diane trying out her internet connection, and using Instant Messaging. She was thrilled to find someone she knew on line at the same time. We chatted a bit and then, since both of us were exhausted from being up so late the night before, we just went to bed.

We are now in the last days here, with Peggy starting to do things like check her airline tickets, figure out which things to mail home, doing "test packing," etc. It's really coming to an end. When she was expected, 6 weeks ago, I was nervous about how we would get along. It has exceeded our wildest expectations and we have forged a very close, friendship which we expect will continue forever. It will be so difficult having her at one end of the world and me at the other, knowing that we will undoubtedly never again have the chance to get lost on the freeway, do some power shopping, or just sit together and laugh. But it's been an unforgettable experience and I will cry when I have to take her to the airport on Sunday. It's been a long time since I've had to have a gut-wrenching goodbye and send someone back to another country. Those farewells are always so bitter sweet. Terribly painful because it's the end of something, but sweet because of the joy that the brief time together has been.

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