Meeting my son in San Francisco

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(Host) Commentator David Moats reflects on fathers, sons and journeys of discovery.

(Moats) My son is living on Fell Street in San Francisco. That wouldn’t be so strange except that, 27 years ago, before I came to Vermont, I was living on Willard Street, which is not so far away. I was a Californian who came to Vermont. My son is a Vermonter who has gone to California. What is this all about?

He is learning what it’s like to live in a place where it’s 65 degrees in February. The weather is beautiful, he says. I ask him, do you have a hard time remembering that right now as we speak it’s zero degrees in Vermont? He says yes and he laughs. I have a friend who moved to Florida. She was telling me how nice the weather was. Then she said, “Do you still have snow all over the place up there?” I laughed. She’d been away for four months, and she’d already forgotten.

My son’s journey back to California is interesting in another way. He was telling me about the day he and his friends were hiking on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. Then they went down to Stinson Beach. It took me right back to 1974. My friends and I were living in Marin County. Nixon was being impeached. We were hiking on Mount Tamalpais. We went down to Stinson Beach. I said to my son, did you know that’s where I met your mother? He said, really? It is interesting to think of him as a young man discovering all those old places.

It’s also interesting to think about why certain lives go in certain directions. To me there was something artificial about California, and Vermont sounded like a place that was real. I wanted to get out in the world, and so we packed our stuff into a van and out we came. He wants to get out in the world, too, and San Francisco is a huge adventure. He’s discovering what it’s like to live in a neighborhood, with truck traffic roaring by at 6 in the morning, to live in a world beyond the old circle of friends.

I don’t know how long he’ll stay out there. My guess is it won’t be forever. Of course, when I came out here, I was just trying it out. The East Coast was really different, really weird, really hard to figure out. I didn’t know if I’d like it or not.

You get to a certain age you start to see life unfold in patterns. It’s a little spooky. When your kids are young, you have this well-defined and wonderful little world. They have their schools, and on Saturday you take them to the hardware store. But then the wind takes them like it takes the samara from a maple tree, and who knows who far it will blow them?

I can’t wait till it’s time to visit him in San Francisco. He can show me around.

This is David Moats from Middlebury.

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