Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Sea Lions are Gone!

And they’ve moved to – drum roll, please – Oregon! Word on the street is that there are some pretty awesome sea lion caves in the Beaver State. But I still wonder why this town’s greatest attraction has left our beautiful City by the Bay for a northwestern region, where it rains more than it shines.

Did the creatures run off to find food? Friends? Work? Family? What about love? Because they certainly didn’t depart in search of better weather. In San Fran, you can pretty much guarantee any day of the year will be 65 and sunny. If truth be told? I’ve done away with all my umbrellas and winter coats. (And sundresses and tank tops.) (Not that that’s a good thing.)

When I first hear about the sea lions’ vanishing act – about the mammals disappearing from Pier 39, where they’ve lived for twenty years – I’m in Portland for a long weekend, staying in my old house, in my old room. After a year and a half in San Francisco, I’m weighing the pros and cons of moving to the northwest, following the sea lions. (Pros? No sales tax, and there are people to pump my gas. Cons? Rain, cold, and unemployment.)

Eyes bulging, Mom looks up from the sea lion article she’s been reading for the past ten minutes. In her pink bathrobe, she curls into a ball, coffee in one hand and glasses in the other. Her red hair is wild from sleep but self-possessed.

From across the living room she looks at me and then sets her steaming-hot coffee mug (which reads “World’s Best Mom”) onto the mantle, near the fireplace. Assuming she’ll say something Mom-ish (“Why don’t you take a bubble bath and then come to lunch and go shopping with me? That’s just what you need!”), I give her my undivided attention. After all, this weekend is devoted to thinking, and listening. My plan is to think about what I want to do with my life – move to Oregon or stay in San Francisco – and have all the answers by Sunday, when it’s time to leave for the airport. (Hey, I never said it was a good plan.) This weekend is so much about thinking, in fact, that when Dad leaves the house for work, instead of telling me to have a nice day, he shouts, “Have a nice think!”

Comically, in her most newscaster-ish, Katie-Couric-ish tone, Mom declares: “Meghan McCloskey and the sea lions have migrated from the great and powerful Bay Area all the way to the depths of Oregon. Will it be permanent? Nobody knows. Where they’ll go and for how long is a mystery to all of us...”

She continues like this until we're laughing so hard that no sound comes out.

Later that afternoon, I can’t help but wonder: If the sea lions could make the journey so abruptly, by following their hearts and listening to their guts, why can't I? (Besides the fact that they don't have to worry about jobs and housing and stuff.)

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  1. You can't move because unlike the sea lions, you have a friend that would miss you terribly!