October 07, 2003
The great foggy north

My trip to the SF area went well, though I didn't see as many people as I'd have liked. My aunt and uncle who were putting me up actually went off to a wedding of their own in San Diego, so I stayed at an empty house. Several other people, including Peter, were completely booked.

Still, the wedding party that I went to was great. It was really a kind of delayed reception -- the couple had gotten married the previous weekend in the Sierra foothills, where they live, but the party was back at her mother's house in Marin. I was not a very sociable child but I remember the bride was one of my favorite people back then, and it was happy -- and reassuring in a way -- to see that she's still a really cool person. I really enjoyed talking to her new husband too. He teaches science in elementary school. It's rare these days to meet a male elementary teacher, and even rarer to meet one who seems to feel it's his calling. But I can really see he has the personality for it. He reminds me of adults from my own childhood who infected me with their love of science, with their wonder and playfulness in the natural world.

After the party I met up with a more recent friend who lives in the famed Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. As you might imagine, on a Saturday night the place was jumping. We walked to a Middle Eastern restaurant he likes, but when we came in I thought it seemed awfully crowded and smoky. While my friend was talking to the maitre d' we heard a fire engine wail outside. I thought it would go by, but it stopped out front and suddenly firemen were streaming in the door.

I realized the smokiness was not from cigarettes. We hightailed it out of there.

"Well," said my friend, "that was spectacularly bad timing."

"Hey, you always take a girl where the action is," I said.

We ate at another place nearby, and the fire didn't seem to be serious.

The next morning I decided to visit the church of my late friend John. Back when I blogged the memorial service I mentioned how great his friends were to me, but since then I completely flaked off about communicating with them. So I went back to see who I'd run into there.

That church, an Evangelical Covenant church, has been without a permanent pastor for some time now -- they were in limbo when I was there in April, and they still have the same fill-in pastor. This seems to have hurt the church, because the congregation was smaller than when I'd go there in the '90s. Some things were different about the service, including communion. Before, they'd done it in the usual evangelical style of passing little cups and crackers around on trays. Here the pastor and his wife each stood up front holding a loaf of bread in one hand and a jug of wine in the other, and people would rip off a hunk of bread and dip it in the wine.

The sermon concerned Revelation 5, which the pastor interpreted as a metaphor for the supremacy of Christ over the emperor Domitian. I didn't know anything about Domitian, but apparently he had an even bigger ego than most Roman emperors, and repeatedly persecuted Christians for not worshipping him. Some of the imagery in Revelation apparently refers to the emperor's self-glorifying practices, but places God at the center of the action instead.

I ran into two of John's friends, the church secretary and the property manager, and they were just as welcoming as before. She lamented their inability to find a pastor, and didn't like the way the interim pastor was doing some things, including communion. I tend to prefer more traditional communion, but she liked the tray approach because it let everybody give the bread and wine as well as receive it. I never thought of it that way, but I guess it fits with the evangelical attitude.

So we had lunch, and then I hit the road. I drove until I reached the eastern end of Santa Barbara, where I stopped to see Telford. I'd hoped to see his new house, but I guess they didn't feel ready to receive guests, because he had me meet him at a nearby Starbucks. It went sort of like the usual visit with Telford: we met up at quarter to eight, Starbucks kicked us out when they closed at ten, and we spent another 20 minutes talking in the parking lot. It's great to have a friend you have such a mutual appetite for conversation with, but I still had 100 miles to drive home and work in the morning, so I was a real zombie all day yesterday. I think that's got to be a new kind of ailment ... a Telford hangover ...

Posted by Camassia at October 07, 2003 07:40 PM | TrackBack
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