Lucky is typically defined as something that produces or results in good by chance. Brilliant luck is what happens when luck plus a teenager result in a wonderful time. I am infinitely aware of just how preciously short life is as I watch Brian’s feet quickly grow out of his size 11 shoes and teenage moments of wisdom reveal themselves.
After reviewing the certified check and letter, I ask Brian what he would like to do…
“Mom, let’s go out to dinner and celebrate.”
“You hated my job that much?”
“Even more. You know that Churchill guy said never to give in, so I think you needed to leave.”
(Churchill actually said, “Never give in. Never never never never in anything great or small. large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”)
“Oh. So things are better now that I left?”
“Yeah. If I were older I would have found a way to make money and make you stop going there months ago.”
“Then we probably should go out for sushi.”
Why not go out for something mildly expensive that we both enjoy? The air in Sonoma County is constricted from the fires and it feels like someone is holding a burning cigarette in a cloth over our faces. Let’s just ignore this and the fact that I am job hunting, and venture out to dinner. California is burning around us, so why not celebrate my release from prison, or as Brian likes to call it “my release from the prison known as the Symphony”.
I haven’t driven the truck in weeks due to my ankle. It feels good to leave the house and venture out. Brian even bothers to take a shower and run gel through his hair. I feel honored. He must really want some sushi.
Have you ever had one of those perfect evenings with your teenage kids? You know, the ones where they talk with you, laugh with you and actually enjoy your company? During my dinner with Brian, I hardly touch my food for hanging on his every story. It was as if time stopped for us. Over dinner, I learn more about Brian in those 45 minutes than I have noticed in the last 8 months. No wonder he wanted me to quit. Sometimes life is magic.
As he holds the doors open for me to leave the restaurant, I ask,
“Ever heard of Gravity Hill?”
“No. What’s Gravity Hill?”
(I dare not tell him it used to be a place where kids drank, made-out and caused harmless trouble … and *wink**wink* I never went there…).
“It’s a place where ghosts drag your car up a hill.”
“Yes, wanna see it?”
“Well yeah mom!”
I grew up in a small town at the base of Gravity Hill, underneath the blanket soft grasses which cover the rolling hills which make up Sonoma County. My first experience with Gravity Hill was with my own father who wanted to take me to a place where ghosts play pranks. I was probably about 8 and a brave little girl back then. As long as I was with my father I could conquer anyone or anything. Long winding two lane roads give way to a narrow one- lane road, blanketed on each side by fields of blond grass and massive oak trees. My father pointed to a crumbling Victorian farm house on our right, “That’s where the ghosts live,” he motioned. I move closer to him from the back seat, standing behind his back from the floor of our Impala.
It is so dark that only the car headlights illuminate our way over this old narrow road. I wonder if Christ once road his donkey here. Finally, my father turns the car around at what seems to be the narrowest point of the road and faces a hill. He turns the engine off and then the headlights, while placing the car in neutral. “Here we go,” he says, as I place my arms around his neck from my position behind him. Suddenly the car jolts forward, then pauses and moves forward again. It seems the car is being pushed up the hill. I gasp, as our car slowly moves upward. “The ghosts are pushing us.” my dad exclaims. I bury my face in his neck, but can’t resist looking up. I beg him to turn the lights on. He does, and points to the many lights of the valley below. I wasn’t sure if I liked ghosts, but I loved this experience with my dad.
So here Brian and I are, so many years later driving the same winding roads that lead to Gravity Hill. Surprisingly, not much has changed over the last 40 years, as we silently gaze at the vast blond fields of grass and massive Oak trees. Old rock music blasts the radio. I feel like I am 16 again. I point to were I once loved riding horses with a best friend. It is as if my dad and I are riding the same road all over again, except this time I am driving and he is sitting in the passenger seat as Brian.
“It’s pretty here Mom.”
“Yeah, it is.”
The truck winds its way to the top of the hill and I stop as we face the top.
“Brian, are you ready for some ghosts?”
“Bring it on, Mom.”
I place the truck in neutral, turn the engine off and move my feet back. Suddenly the truck leaps forward and begins to move up the hill.
“Cool.” Brian looks at me like this is just another moment in a video game. We slowly glide up the hill. He stares back at the valley below.
“Want to do it again?”
I turn the truck around, descend down the hill, turn around and start the same process all over again. This time we are talking about my dad as the truck lunges forward.
“Do you think maybe your dad is here watching us?”
Just then a large buck leaps past us into an upper meadow. We stare like we have never seen a deer before. Wild jack rabbits hop by to our right, followed by a family of wild turkeys. The sun is slowly beginning to set. It dawns on me that it is a beautiful evening.
“Mom, this is cool.”
“Are you having fun?”
“I always do with you. I’m glad you quit your job.”
“Me too … well … do you think there are ghosts here?”
“I don’t know, but this is probably some mathematical thing.”
We slowly descend back down the hill in silence. Bye Bye Miss American Pie comes on the radio. We begin to sing. Oddly, even though he is just 13, Brian knows all the words to this song. I am reliving the 1970’s all over again. We sing the way to our home. He hasn’t yet reached the teen age where he’s too cool to sing with his mom. We even manage some truck seat dancing. Shhhh … don’t tell his friends.
Just as we finish the song and enter our driveway, my cell phone rings. My mother is calling to tell me that our big Uncle Bud from Fallon Nevada has leukemia and just a few days to live. This is a cold reminder that life is precious and we should cherish every moment. It is said that life is a brief collection of moments, but sometimes in those moments we get a memories which last a life-time. We should remember to slow down and enjoy the moments of collecting.
My uncle would be thrilled that Brian and I spent such a wonderful evening collecting memories. He is a man who will
leave this world with no regrets. He always showed me how much he loved me, just like my dad. He gave me the gift of many loving memories and I now collect them with Brian. I am lucky – my “collections” runneth over.
How about you?
Until next time-