I am on a recreational pilgrimage up north for the time being. Wine country, Sonoma county, epicenter of my childhood nostalgia. It's raining, which, to me, seems fitting. This place holds bittersweet memories for me.
My wife and I flew up on Thursday morning on Southwest Airlines, and landed in SFO around 11am. Each we went our separate ways, my wife to her parents, myself and my mother to see grandma. I should reunite with her tomorrow, barring unforeseen consequences. Good weekend thus far, me thinks.
Yesterday I was able to go to Russian River finally. While I consider myself a beer connoisseur, I do not reckon Russian River to be a Mecca of sorts. I was able to get an employee discount with my Stone Brewing ID. Had I known I'd get the star treatment, I would have ordered more. Lesson learned.
Greg, my designer for Spirit of Orn, and Stephen, long time friend and groomsman, met me there and we talked and had a blast. Even my pastor in proxy, Bern, made it! The evening rolled out with promise and delivered. We all need nights like that. I'm glad that I was able to be there, take it all in.
Being up here hurts me, deeply, on a spiritual level. I say "hurt," but not in reference to the bad kind of "hurt," you may think about. Being up here instigates longings for acceptance, within moments of transience. Healdsburg would be that place you find, when wandering in the Gobi into one of Neil Gaiman's "Soft Places." It's a town, filled with wonderful people, that by all rights shouldn't exist; but it does as if to spite creation. I was introduced to all the childhood vices here: drinking, sex, youthful rebellion, etc. Yet, simultaneously: love, friendship, loss, the stuff of maturation and development. I believe, deep down, that it "hurts" me to be here, in this place that should not rightly exist. I feel stagnant and apart from a place lost in timelessness. If Northern California was Hades, Healdsburg would be Tartarus, and it's streets the river Lethe. I am lost, made to forget who I am, spiritually trapped in a place that beckons me with welcoming arms.
But sometimes, for a little while, I can storm the gates. Sometimes I can put on my sword and encounter this magical kingdom and wonder idly what it would have been like to remain here. There will be a day when this place claims me, keeps me, but that day has not come yet. There is still so much left to do, and so little time to do it in.
But someday... until then, I have work to do.