Wednesday, February 11, 2015:
I left Sacramento and drove to San Leandro. There, I checked into the Marina Inn.
Before I started the two-hour drive, I stopped by my in-laws’ house. My father-in-law asked me to deliver a package for Audrey, the hotel’s supervisor.
The package was fairly light. The things inside bumped around. It was sealed in a box with the Zulily logo. I thought it strange my father-in-law was passing on a package of clothing. Once in the car, however, I didn’t give it another thought.
I drove through the sprawling Altamont Pass. Anorexic windmills stood tall and proud, interspersed in the foothills. My ears popped only slightly, for which I was grateful. I’d forgotten to get out gum for my altitude-sensitive ears.
Pulling into the parking lot at the Marina Inn is like pulling up to Gull Lake, a resort (a term I use loosely) where we stayed for a week each summer. As a child, Gull Lake was a vacation spot that felt like home. And so it goes with the Marina Inn on our semi-routine visits.
After check-in, I loaded up the baggage cart. I brought two suitcases, a Tinkerbell tote bag full of snacks, a lunch cooler full of perishable snacks and my dairy-free, coconut creamer. I also had an over-stuffed computer bag, light wool jacket for possible cold, and my purse.
I ran into the housekeeping staff on the way to my room. She thoughtfully held my room door open as I maneuvered the cart into my room.
“Are you staying a while?” she asked, eyeballing my mountain of things.
I NEVER pack this much, not even for a week-long vacation.
Sheepishly I told her “No.” Embarrassed, I went on “I’m attending a writers conference and wasn’t sure what to pack.”
Then she pointed to the business-sized envelope sitting on the dresser. “I just dropped that off,” she smiled. Then she left me to the tedious job of unpacking.
Curious, I approached the envelope. I had no idea what it could be or who it could be from. A smile touched my lips when I saw my husband’s handwriting on the front.
Inside I found a card and two stones: The larger one said luck and the smaller success.
Inside the card was this thoughtful note:
And so went the first day of my trip to the Bay Area for the San Francisco Writers Conference.
It was a wonderful start.