August 21, 2010

Going Without Knowing

Today was a new adventure. I rode up to Rosemead Place to have lunch at a Thai restaurant with Holly. I tried a fruit smoothie with tapioca balls. The smoothie was good, but I could do without the gooey, tasteless balls in the bottom. The pad thai with tofu was much better. The route along Rosemead Blvd was not really bicycle or pedestrian friendly. I walked my bike along the cracked and pocked shoulder for half the distance. On the way back I rode mostly in the narrow gutter between the right traffic lane and curbed and cracked shoulder. Trouble is, Rosemead is the only path over the Rio Hondo in that direction and under the I-10, so I may just have the brave it. Luckily the bad stretch isn’t very long.

The walk under the I-10 freeway today reminded me of the time I walked from Alameda to Oakland. Lest you think this is impossible, Alameda being an island, I assure you it is not. I took the subway and then a bus out to visit a firm there in a highly auto-centric office park near the College of Alameda. The bus stop was on one side of a very busy road and when I returned, I could not seem to locate where to catch the bus going in the opposite direction. I began walking down the road in the direction I wanted to go, figuring it was a bus route and I would eventually find a stop.

An hour later I had walked all the way to Oakland via the Webster Street Tunnel, at least a good mile underground. Where logic whispers maybe it may be time to turn around and find another route, I just press on, thinking since I’ve come this far and found no physical impediment to forward travel, I might as well continue. There is a path through the tunnel, an elevated walkway of sorts I’m sure is actually intended for maintenance and not pedestrians, but it was safe enough. The worst bit was the noise. I came up in a rather nice and touristy part of Oakland (well, okay, a slightly run down light industrial area two blocks from the touristy part), near the Jack London Square and waterfront. From there, finding a cafĂ©, a bookstore, and a bus stop was easy.

I have the tendency to set out in the direction of my goal without fully understanding the path and trusting in my own abilities to get me there. I am steady in my resolve and hard to fluster, scare, or turn aside. This personality trait is not restricted to my travel patterns, which have led me on many a strange and marvelous trail. It is part of what allows me to come all the way out to California and make such a seemingly radical change in my life course (though naturally it makes perfect sense to me). It helped me complete my studies in architecture despite a very unclear path and many bumps in the road.

Harry remarks that I’ve settled in very quickly, much quicker than his last roommate who’d lived in the LA area all his life. I’ve been mostly hanging around the house, now and then going out to lunch or a lecture. The other night I sat outside and talked with Harry and his friend Tek for a while. Tomorrow morning, I plan to explore the Hispanic market across the street.

Even when the going is uncertain, my determination to get there is unshakable. I have a good sense of direction. I may not know where the bus stop is or where the tunnel comes out, but I know Oakland is northeast of Alameda. I may not realize all the differences between California and Nebraska yet, but I know a smile and a “thank you” works no matter where you are or what language you speak.

I may not know precisely what I’m going to do with this chaplaincy degree, but I know I’m capable of figuring that out by the time I get there.

Photo: In the Webster Street Tunnel from Alameda to Oakland, March 2008.

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