Slowly walking up the Martis Summit Trail last week with my husband, kids, and faithful Labrador, Buck, in tow, we breathlessly paused at the top to take in the glorious views of the lake and the verdant valley below while gliders and hawks soared above. Meeting up with a hiker who had easily passed us just a few minutes earlier, we began to chat (as I'm oh so prone to do)!
"So where do you live when you're not enjoying the wonders of Tahoe?" I inquired (a Realtor's prerogative and my natural curiosity taking over).
"I live in Sacramento," he replied.
"Really? I grew up there," I said.
"Where?" he asked.
"In Land Park," I responded (The Piedmont of Sacramento).
"McClatchy High School?" he countered (this was starting to get interesting . . .).
"Yes. Class of '78," I said.
"Me too! I graduated in '78!" he responded. "I knew a few people at your school. In fact, Kathy Lalivier married my best friend. Do you remember her?" (Not really, but the name registered in the deep recesses.) And of course, there were the twins - Jill and Julie . . ."
"I'M JULIE!" I interrupted.
"I'm Craig!" (Click!)
Craig and I last saw each other more than 25 years ago and we both had changed quite a bit in the intervening years. Still handsome and fit, Craig's hair and goatee are now more grey than black and only an expensive hairdresser is keeping mine from turning the same. I suspect that I am nothing like the young girl I was back then. We're both older but wiser I'd venture to say and we have both gone on to get married, send kids to college and build fulfilling careers in the interim.
"Small world," my husband commented with some amazement on the walk down. "What do you suppose are the chances? How do you know him?"
"Ummm, we dated a few times, but I left town shortly thereafter and we lost touch (the memories were starting to gel now.) Craig was such a nice guy, as I recall (still is) and Kathy was cute and flirtatious. She and I were both student representatives together." (The gates were fully unlocked and the memories were flooding in).
Obviously, my future lay elsewhere - as did Craig's. I would meet the love of my life a few years later and Craig would go on to marry Lisa, a school teacher in Sacramento. They live in a house that's only about a mile from the home in which he grew up, he explained. Teasing him about staying so close, he explained unapologetically, "I've traveled a lot and people always talk about how great other places are, but I'm convinced it doesn't get much better than this." Standing there at the summit, crystal clear sky above and deep, cool water below, it was hard to disagree; indeed, it doesn't get much better than this.
There's something inherently comforting and familiar about running into old friends - even those you haven't seen in many years. It's a sense of coming home, I suppose and an effortless connection. Craig, now a successful architect, designs houses and I (coincidentally) sell them. We're both in the business of "homes" which probably speaks volumes about who we are as individuals and what we value as people.
While I'd like to embrace my "inner Nomad," the plain truth is, I'm more Martha Stewart than Robert E. Peary. Falling short in the adventure game, I'm slightly loath to admit that I covet the familiar more than I crave the exotic (which explains why I sell homes in the East Bay, instead of time shares in the Bahamas!) I'm only good for about 10 days out before I start getting restless and homesick. That's okay. Like Craig, I'm unapologetic about the fact that a sense of "home" is central to who I am and what I represent.
So what's the moral of this accidental reunion? "There's no place like home?" (Yes, but that line's already been taken).
"Home is where the heart is?" (I'm really plagiarizing now. I have no shame.)
For Craig, "home" is in Sacramento and for me, it's here in the Bay Area where I've had extended stays on both sides of the bridge, and where both San Francisco and Oakland communities have claimed my heart - each for very different reasons.
How about if you aren't lucky enough to own a home in Tahoe (or marry into one) make friends with those who are willing to lend you theirs? (True, but not really a moral now, is it?)
Okay, let's try this one on for size - in life, you will often be required to climb uphill to reach the vistas and discover true beauty. (That'll do. I never claimed to be Hemingway; I'm just looking for some nuggets of truth here.)
In Real Estate, as in life, the journey is often an uphill climb. Moreover, you are often struggling to get there (wheeze)! Take heart - that's as it should be. It's the climb that leads to the reward.
Besides, you never know who you'll bump into . . . and that's when life gets really interesting!
Trivia Time: Free lattes at Mulberry's Market to the first five readers who respond to this question: What did Robert Peary discover first and in what year? OR send me a moral that you've gleaned from this little "class reunion." (I'll print the best ones!)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.