We got to the city and safely within walking distance and then safely down the street from the Indian Consulate, at a reasonable hour. 9:20 ish. I was just relieved to be there, car didn't break down and we didn't get too lost and there were no disasters.
I was surprised at how many people were there, in line and sitting around waiting for their numbers to be called. Mostly Indians but quite a lot of youngish white travelers. I was quietly amazed that everything went fine. We had our forms (mine filled out, his not– yes I'm annoyed easily, but only by some things) and passports and photos and, in my case, $150 cash.
We turned everything in and were told to return at 4:00. Free to wander the city, then.
The first half of the day sucked because we weren't exactly talking and I am too stubborn to apologize for what I am not sorry for.
Golden Gate Park is amazing. We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon there but it wasn't nearly enough time. We made friends again when I called and said he should come join me in the Japanese Tea Garden. That is a very peaceful place. We had green tea in imitation-porcelain cups, and read shallow fortunes that did not apply to our lives.
We went back to the consulate and waited in another line outside. We opened our passports and oogled at our little inserts like the ill-traveled younguns we are.
I have a ten-year visa. I can go back to India, for as much as six months at a time, until I'm 31 years old. Maybe it's telling that I opted for that instead of a cheaper shorter-term one. Maybe I am assuming too much about the community I'll be temporarily a part of. but optimism is okay.
We, or at least I, was contented, and chose to spend the next couple hours napping. Drove where we could see the old bath house, by the ocean, and dozed in the car because it was cold outside.
I dropped Shawn off outside a restaurant where he met a friend turning 21. I wanted no part of the SF bar scene and so drove to Berkeley to see Katie!
Several times during this trip I was struck by how much felt familiar despite short visits years ago, often of little significance (think touring colleges with my parents, pit stops on the way home from Davis, riding home from an SCA event.)
The next day was the 911 Power to the Peaceful concert fest back in the park. I got myself there using BART and by walking a long way. It was a very nice journey actually. I am self-reliant. I found the speedway section of the park, and the thousands of people.
I ran into Simone from EAB within 10 minutes.
I found Food Not Bombs, East Bay.
I found Shawn and we sat to watch the couples yoga performers, and I wondered yet again what the hell was wrong with me and, arriving at no conclusion, what I could do about it.
We took another nap, on some crunchy leaves and sticks where alien spiders live.
We found Andrea. From then on she was our travel companion as she had taken a train up in the middle of the night without a plan of how to get back to Santa Barbara. Some interesting social dynamics resulted from this but I kind of liked it. People are too judgmental and should be given the chance to realize that sometimes.
She's 50-something, an "old school, old old school" hippie, paranoid-schizophrenic (my assumption), and momentarily homeless. She looks it. She is a regular at student anti-war events, Food Not Bombs, the Free Market, and other anarchist goings-on. Cigarettes have ruined her voice and complexion.
She means well, understands more than she lets on, and has a lovely smile.
After the concert (incl. Indigo Girls, speaker Amy Goodman, Michael Franti) the three of us began the long walk back to the BART station. Found some blackberries and were happy.
Stopped at a weird gourmet market place for some Peet's coffee and warmth. Saw the UN building all lit up; watched the steam rising from manhole covers.
Made our way to Berkeley where we cut through campus and visited the tree people. Andrea knew someone there but the people she wanted to visit weren't around. Went back up to Katie's co-op and were well taken care of!
The next day we went to Santa Cruz because it is beautiful. We had lunch with my friend Grace and then drove around campus. Shawn and I walked into the forest and found a shelter made of sticks. We sat inside and contemplated.
If I had to guess I'd say that is where he will end up wanting to go to school.
Not sure what that means for me.
He made a pointed comment about not wanting to do everything by himself any more.
Then we began the long drive down Highway 1, as I made the dictatorial decision that it would be well worth it. We only really got out once but it was enough. the view left us speechless.