The Smallness of the Bay and the World

The Smallness of the Bay and the World

Last week I packed almost a year’s worth of small world occasions into my schedule without getting off the West Bay.

A long-time friend and former law partner came back to Mill Valley for his son’s wedding and called to see if I could have lunch over there. But when I arrived it was closed. I called him and he reminded me that our date was for the next day, not the present one, but suggested there were plenty of things to see and do around here and suggested a 6 p.m. dinner. I’ve been to Marin several times but never to Tiburon.

My other mission was to get my recently flattened tired repaired. It’s a long way to Tiburon, as it happens, but worth it, for the vast amount of wealth on display. I looped around past the ferry and back to a repair shop I had found, and the guy said half an hour, $20. I walked to the strip mall across the road and looked for a place for lunch. A trim elderly lady with short gray hair offered me a ride to Sam’s, which I now know to be a legendary venue. When I told her where I live, she said she used to sail in Alameda and loved the Pier 29 Restaurant in Ballena Cove.

I drooled over the lobster roll at $37 but came to my West Bay senses and got the fried chicken sandwich for half the price. A youngish couple (30’s?) sat down next to me and we nodded. We began a quiet conversation which revealed that they also live in Alameda, four blocks from me.

I showed the couple a photo of my 3-year-old granddaughter who is, of course, movie star adorable, and they asked where she and my daughter lived. I mentioned the town of Hawi on the Big Island, the northernmost town of about 500 souls with the mountains of Maui visible across the channel. They looked at each other with a modicum of astonishment and said that’s where his mother lives, in the same small village 500 yards away. I still had plenty of time to kill and a great dinner with Dick.

The next day we went to San Francisco to see the fabulous Chinese modern high-end dresses by Guo Pei, which the museum has sensationally displayed amid their own fabulous art collection throughout the whole museum, which creates sensational tableaux that must be seen to be appreciated. We had tickets but, as always, were running late, so she parked in the first garage she came to that had the name above the entrance. It proved to be 200 yards across a concourse from the museum, and I have a heart condition that’s slowly recovering but dislikes long walks for now, but I took it slow and arrived not out of breath.

When we got to the museum’s front door, I glanced over at a man somewhat younger than me with his family and noticed that his velour zip-up jacket had a legend halfway up the left front that said, “National Champions 2022 Georgia Bulldogs.” I leaned over and mentioned that my only living relatives, except my two kids, lived in Georgia. He asked where, and when he heard Lawrenceville, he asked their names. When I said “James” he said if it’s the surveyor and civil engineer they were his neighbors and gave me his name to pass his greetings back.

At that point we discovered we had come to the DeJong Museum, but our show was at the Legion of Honor, a fifteen-minute drive away. I walked to the road across from which our car sat, and in 5 minutes my beloved came back to remind me that she had given me the parking ticket, which I returned to her. This being her second mistake in 10 minutes obviously upset her, and when I saw her another 5 minutes later, she had a huge dent in the right front fender. Treading carefully, I lied and said I thought she’d told me about that crash recently. She said it was the result of her anger at herself, plus the fact we would be late for the show we got tickets for four weeks ago and had rushed her exit and whacked her Camry good.

Mike Parish is an Alameda resident.