I'm in California. It is Thursday. Almost a week has past since I left home. There's so much to write, to say, to share! Yet, the beginning is the greatest part of this experience.
I'd start this story off with "Once upon a time"....but this is no fairy tale; it just seemed that way last weekend. I had the surprise of a lifetime. I had absolutely no idea that plans had been made six weeks or more in advance and that both my sons knew about it. I had no idea that Steve could keep a secret for a single day much less this long. For years he's said that one day he'd do something totally romantic, a complete surprise....that day was last Friday. He joined me for the weekend in California, for the closing reception of my solo exhibition at Ironstone Vineyards. He kept the secret going all the way to the Charlotte airport by dropping me off curbside in the departure lanes. He kissed me good-bye and drove off....to the remote parking lot!
His presence made everything perfect. Alone, I would never have adventured into San Francisco on the very first evening to walk around a lantern-lit Chinatown full of souvenir shops, art galleries, and restaurants. I would have missed the carved ivories, silk costumes, and trinkets on display and a lovely oriental meal.
Alone, I would never have taken the "scenic" route to Ironstone over the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping to walk almost halfway across as the fog rolled in to cover the skyline. Alone, I would have paid attention to the road and the maps and not focused on the ever-changing terrain as the altitude increased.
Alone, I would never have introduced myself to the staff at Ironstone in the afternoon. I would have visited anonymously and sneaked into my own reception as if some shy wallflower. With Steve, however, the introduction became easy and we enjoyed a wonderful private tour that included the underground chambers and a piece of music played on the restored piper organ. Alone, the reception would have been slightly awkward. With Steve, I could relax and enjoy the champagne!
Alone, I would have had no reason to return to San Francisco on Sunday (for Steve's return flight). We were able to purchase two seats to the ballet's matinee of Sleeping Beauty. Everything was perfect, including a last minute announcement that our former neighbor Joseph Phillips would be dancing in place of another, injured dancer. Alone, the weekend could not have been as fabulous as it had been.
I've been surprised before, but never like this!