My first two e-mails started to detail the challenges of our journey west – I've wanted to tell you that story – but our lives have raced along since we've actually arrived, and apparently there is a desire to here about that stuff as well. The following was e-mailed to us by one of you in response to my last installment:
"What a great story ...in Georgia things go slow so I am use to that, but this is slower than any slow I know anything about. I am hearing all these great stories about you going to mark groups and doing fun things getting make overs so come on now!!!!!”
Oh, how I love feedback! As my goal is to please, my description of the journey that it took to get us here will take a break so I can include a story of the fun we've been having since we got here.
I was looking at the Lafayette Morehouse website recently and noticed that Sugar, Ezra and Carrie were going to be leading a Mark Group in Mill Valley the following Wednesday. That sure sounded like a good time to us, and it figured to be a one-shot deal, as Ezra and Carrie were going to be flying back on Friday to start their new life together in New York. We figured we would try to get to this Group.
On Sunday, I saw Ezra in Lafayette and asked him if he could give us directions to the Group, and who the host was. He said, “David Wood.” That sealed it: We were going. David was an old friend from the East Coast. He had been travelling a lot over the past couple of years and we hadn't seen him or heard from him in some time. We certainly hadn't known that he was living in the Bay Area, and we were pretty sure he didn't know that we had moved here, either. I asked Ezra not to tell him we were coming to the Mark Group, so it could be a surprise.
The directions on David's website said that, if one used Google Maps and a GPS, plus David's detailed instructions and the customized maps he'd posted, there was about an 87% chance of finding his house. We poo-pooed this, figuring our GPS was infallible. We left ourselves plenty of extra time, just in case, and boy, did we need it. Once we got within two or three miles of the address, it took us about 20 minutes of searching tiny, narrow roads carved into cliff sides with no guard rails before we found a mailbox with David's house number on it next to a postage-stamp-sized parking space. However, there was no house. That particular amenity could only be reached by walking up 108 stone steps. (Lynne: “108?! Did you read these directions ahead of time?”)
Because we'd left extra time for the trip, we actually got there at the scheduled starting time for the Group. As it turned out, we were the first to arrive. The look on David's face as he viewed us coming up those steps from his all-glass living room was priceless. He was completely surprised to see us. (“I don't get much walk-in traffic.”) But the biggest kick came about five minutes later when I mentioned that we had recently become residents of California. His eyes got wide and his jaw dropped. It was great.
Next the group leaders arrived, and then two carloads of participants. Once they all made it up the steps, David took everyone on a house tour, explaining that the place had been built in 1964 by a German World War II pilot who had personally carved the stones for the foundation out of the hillside itself. He had lived there with his wife until 2007, when they had gotten too old to climb the 108 steps (and they were only in their 80's!). Needless to say, the views from this exotic residence on top of a mountain were spectacular. We could see all the way across the valley to the mountain on the other side, while closer in were redwoods whose roots started far below where we stood and whose trunks shot up past us ending in branches high in the sky above us.
After the tour, we sat down in the living room by a fire and the Group started. The people in the room were Sugar, Ezra and Carrie, David, Kiva and Michael, Jill and Jeff, and us. It was the perfect grouping, big enough to have a good variety of hot seats, and small enough to be incredibly intimate, filled with love, and sometimes raucously hilarious. The group leaders set just the right tone, and we all jumped in.
There were many fun moments. It was a treat to watch David, who was the only single person in attendance, as he was exposed to people who were all in very dynamic relationships. Everyone knew each other pretty well, to varying degrees, and each person was quite open, revealing unique intimacies about life with his or her partner.
Carrie's hot seat was particularly gratifying. We had met her for the first time at a boisterous, large, crowded Mark Group during our Evaluacy a month earlier, and we had since been in several courses with her, but had never really sat down and gotten to know her. On her hot seat this night, we got to see what a mensch she was.
We were all having so much fun that, after the Group was over, David brought out food and drink and we were compelled to stay and party for a while. As we were leaving, I asked David, as he had warned everyone that there'd only been an 87% chance of our finding his place, what he saw as our chances of making it home that night. His reply was, “I hope you like sleeping in your car.” You'd never know he used to do stand-up.
Predictably, even though we were using our GPS again, we took several wrong turns (this time in the pitch dark) before reaching the bottom of the mountain. Between the late start, the house tour, the after-party, and the difficulty of navigation, we got home at 11:30 from a Mark Group that had been scheduled to end at 9:30. All in all, it was a totally exhilarating evening.
Thanks for reading!
“Those who speak do not know. Those who know do not speak.” I wonder who said that.
-- Brian Shekeloff