Thursday, August 27, 2009

Golden Hills and Traffic Jams

Friday started with a small boat ride from Seaward to Sausalito, where I enjoyed a breakfast out with Tucker-my friend Emerson's girlfriend. From there, I headed back across the Golden Gate bridge to Golden Gate Park where I fell in love with tree after tree.

I spent hours at the Japanese Tea Garden; snapping photos, writing while taking tea, and drinking in the serene beauty of it all. I then spent another hour or so trying to get back to my car with my poor excuse for a map and fears of a very expensive parking ticket.

Finally, I found the rental car and worked my way out of San Francisco to Stockton for Sean's baptism. Justin and I had discussed the golden hills of California during our wanderings the day before. Even so, I was unprepared for just how yellow-gold the hills east of San Francisco really are. Thanks to my delay in finding my car, I was granted hours instead of minutes to enjoy them and the Friday afternoon exodus from the city.

When I reached Stockton in a little less than twice the 90 minutes estimated online, I got to see my friend Kevin for the first time since my twenty-first birthday, meet his family and friends, and covertly wonder whether I would have an allergy attack during the weekend's festivities. Kevin et al have two cats and I was sleeping on the couch...hmm, I foresee breathing woes...

After dinner, I spent some time cuddling my future godson, Sean, who promptly fell asleep in my arms. Then it was time to take a risk and go to bed.

I woke up the next morning full of relief, I had survived a night on a cat couch! We all set about preparing for the baptism and house party to follow. Sean was wide awake and playful--always adorable in an infant. I took him and started playing with him only to have his eyelids start drooping. Once again, Sean had cuddled up and fallen asleep! Luckily, he was not adverse to being woken up a few minutes later for the traditional bath.

Apparently, it is customary for the future godparents to bathe and dress the infant before heading to the baptism. We gave him his bath, he tried to christen Jeromy (the godfather), and then we dressed him up in his infant-sized tuxedo. Off to the church we sped. I decided that out of the four children getting baptized, Sean was the best behaved. There were two young girls who squirmed throughout the ceremony and one older boy (probably two or three) who spent most of the ceremony terrified of the priest-an interesting conundrum since the priest must touch the children's foreheads numerous times during the sacrament of baptism.

I was fairly impressed with the priest. Often times people imply that Catholicism is a series of well-practiced words without a lot of emotion or relationship with God involved. This was my first true taste of Catholicism. While I am not preparing to convert to it, I found the priest to be forceful in his charge that we ensure the baptism was not just a sacrament but also a beginning of a longer, deeper relationship with God for our children and godchildren. He clearly disdained the idea of a baptism being about taking pictures, but was also willing and ready to pose for pictures when it was over.

With the baptism ceremony complete, four of us had joined the Pledger family and I became Nina Beth. We went outside to take pictures and once again, I held a sleeping Sean. Then we headed home to finish preparing for the family party that afternoon. The party ended up being fairly relaxing. There were about ten children there, including Kevin's older son Jacob. Sean slept through most of the party in Nina Lana's arms, finally waking up around seven. She passed him off to me for his bottle. Within twenty minutes, he was curled back up and sleeping soundly...again! Surprised he had any sleep left in him, we began joking that I was a baby whisperer and could only put them to sleep.

The next morning, I tried playing with Sean again. This time, instead of holding him, I laid him down on the couch next to me. He was happy and playful...until I held him. Right back asleep! Same thing a few hours later as I was preparing to say my goodbyes. Apparently, I really am Sean's sandman!

It was tough to say goodbye to Kevin and family. I had to head out to go sailing on Seaward with Emerson, but had really enjoyed my time with the Pledgers. I found their house really relaxing and after two nights without a cat-induced allergy attack was no longer anxious about one starting, just compulsively washing my hands for security.

As I hit the road to head back to Sausalito, I soon realized that I had delayed a bit too long. Even though it was Sunday afternoon, there were traffic reports on the radio and all implied that my trip back through the golden hills would involve yet another traffic jam. I made a quick stop for caffeine and then cautiously sped my way towards Seaward, wondering if I would make it on time. Emerson's phone had been having problems, so fifteen minutes before the sail was to begin, I tried calling the ship's phone to let them know I was really trying to make it. Not surprisingly, no one answered as I am sure they were boarding passengers by the time I called.

Finally, I pulled into the Bay Model parking lot. The ship was still on the dock, the passengers all gathered together for the safety talk. I flew out of my car, making a huge mess of my luggage trying to grab my only warm clothes and raced towards the dock. Just as I took my first step onto the dock, I heard Captain Emerson call for his first two docklines. My first thought was, "I'm too late!" My second thought, "I shouldn't have stopped for coffee!" My third thought, "I can still make it." I yelled out for Tucker.

She turned to Emerson and shouted, "Do you want a Beth?"

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