Yesterday I left Los Angeles and drove up the coast to San Francisco, which is where I am as I’m writing this (sitting on a couch in a great old apartment in the city, owned by friends of my sister). I didn’t know California 1 was so slow and winding, so a trip that could have taken six hours if I’d driven the inland highway turned into ten hours.
But man, was it gorgeous. Most of the time on Highway 1 (about 2/3 of the trip, time-wise) was spent in fog, but driving up this coast road trough fog with the ocean right next to you, and then the fog breaks and you suddenly see the Pacific less than 100 feet away, with the cliffs and rocks and the sunset…The trip was made longer by the fact that I kept stopping the car to get out and take pictures, or walking a bit of the beach enveloped in fog. I also drove over Bixby Canyon Bridge and through Big Sur, which was beautiful and strange and unexpected, and I thought for a while about Keroac and Ginsburg and that writing I love so much.
I also passed a surprising number of hitchhikers going to San Francisco. One group was 2 people, a dog, and a cat, and as I drove by them the first time I wished there was something I could do for them. While I was walking on the beach in the fog, they must have passed me because when I got back on the road I didn’t drive for too long before I passed them again. This time I stopped and gave them a little food, but still felt sorry to have to tell them my car was full of my own stuff and I didn’t have room.
For the next couple hours I wondered if that was really true? Could I have put all my stuff into the trunk and made room for these two deadlocked girls and their pets? It would have been a tight fit but I think I might have been able to. And that’s something I’m still regretting right now. These two people needed a ride to San Francisco and I could have given it to them if I had made an effort. Is it enough to give them a little food and say a prayer that they make it to where they’re going? What good is thought without action? Why pray that they make it to San Fancisco if I’m not willing to be the one who gets them there? That seems like the height of selfishness. “God, get them there safely, but not through me.” I regret not trying to move my stuff around so they could have a ride, I regret not getting to know them and hearing what I’m sure would be incredible stories about their life, and I regret not having the kind of compassion I want others to have. I’m sorry. I get it very wrong sometimes.