Leaving on the 10 eastbound. Beautiful SoCA weather,70s and sunny and even soaring up to the lower 80s in the valley. I take the usual 31-mile trip to West Covina, making a detour to fund my trip at an ATM. Afterwards; I drive to the dharma center, heading back west several blocks. I’d been going there ever since the summer of 1999. So many times I’d driven that familiar route in rain, good days, nights, even the earliest of mornings so that I could see my teacher or take a class from him. But on that summerlike February day I drove up to the quiet center on a weekday morning only to see it was unusually quiet. The students were at work. The teachers weren’t there, not even in the shrine room. I’d never been there alone before, with not even a student monk present. I’m surprised, and disappointed.
Before leaving, I take a few pictures, those of the colorful flapping prayer flags flying in the soft breeze to the snow covered Mount Baldy looming in the distance. I shiver inwardly, thinking that the stuff on the mountain would be seen on the ground where I’m heading…
I’d never felt so reluctant to begin a journey. I just wanted to spend the next several hours hanging out in my favorite quiet place. My teacher was in India for the next few weeks, but even that didn’t matter. His vibes were there.
When I left, I drove slowly down the street and towards the freeway. Had to get gas. Could’ve stopped off anywhere down the 10 but I was hanging out in the San Gabriel Valley area. Just absorbing the sunshine and smog and SoCA a little longer.
I was leaving it all behind. Well, most of it in a multi-level storage facility near Hollywood. The rest was deposited on the sidewalk and part of the driveway for the general public to gather up. Large objects: table and chairs, bookcases, a stereo and black modular plywood cabinet from 1995 that took a week to assemble. Old music in cassette tape format. Lots of years in the same apartment and only empty rooms remained.
In my Mustang were the most precious remnants of my memories: books, writings, clothes and laptop. I’d even left my 2 beloved pairs of ice skates in the locker as I was so limited in square footage. ‘Stangs weren’t known as moving vans.
About 100 miles away from the City of Angels, on an uncrowded 10 freeway I saw my first sign of change. The speed limit sign had 2 new numbers: 70. I stomped my foot down harder on the accelerator, wondering when that happy change had transpired.
Driving southeast, in the desert and heading for more and more of it. Around me were palm trees sprouting from the dirt and always in the distance were the beckoning mountains.