• A trip down memory lane: early guitar lessons.
It’s Fleet Week in San Francisco and that means the Blue Angels and they mean a lotta goddamn noise. At first Catherine and I thought the babies would be cool with the Navy showing off how much fuel it can burn in an hour and achieve absolutely nothing, because our summer in Virginia Beach placed us only a few miles away from the nation’s largest jet base and there were Super Hornets flying low and loud every day from as early as 7:00 AM to as late as midnight. Neither Avalon nor Amelia seemed to be the least bit impressed or even annoyed. But back in SF, it’s been a different story. On Thursday we were out with the stroller and the Blue Angels decided to incinerate several thousand dinosaurs just over 10 feet off the ground and while Amelia yawned Avalon was terrified. There were shrieks and tears and more shrieks and more tears and as we hightailed it back home we plotted how to avoid the noise on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when full air shows would take place. For Friday, we drove down to Crystal Springs Reservoir, on Saturday we headed to the De Young museum to see the Picasso exhibit (it was cool), and on Sunday we drove down to my parents’ house. We arrived at about 2:30 and after feeding the babies opted to go for a stroller walk down near my old elementary school. Memories were flooding back as Catherine, my Dad and I walked around Ormondale, which has grown considerably since I attended, and as we headed away from the school and entered Georgia Lane, possibly the last road in Portola Valley to be paved (my Dad figures it was less than ten years ago) a small cottage caught my eye. I thought it might be where I once took guitar lessons, but I wasn’t sure, so when we all got back home, I asked my Mom. “Oh, yes, that was where you took lessons from Tom.” I remembered Tom. He tried valiantly to teach me how to fingerpick and read music (at the same time, mind you) and as we worked through traditional tune after traditional tune, he would sing. I remember thinking that Robert Plant was better, but Tom had some skills. He was an ace guitarist, had near perfect pitch and infinite patience (important for students like me). He also had KILLER guitars. I remember one was made of Brazilian rosewood, which even back then in the early 70s was virtually unobtainable in a new guitar. Indian was replacing it, but Tom explained how Brazilian had better resonance and created a clear, ringing tone that was highly dynamic. Ever since then I’ve wanted an acoustic made of Brazilian rosewood, but I doubt I will get my wish. Guitars made of the stuff go for thousands of dollars, over ten even. But no matter, I’m not good enough to merit such an instrument anyway. And in the end, that’s what has stuck with me from re-visiting a place from my youth: I was given so many chances, the best of everything really, and for some reason — lack of talent, laziness, the confusion of youth — most was lost on me. On a positive note, at least I’m finally starting to realize how good life has been to me and I am striving every day to live as someone who owes the universe quite a bit. There is still time.