I get sick on the way to San Francisco.
I eat a boring dinner: bland risotto and heirloom tomatoes. My mother has steak. We share a half bottle of wine.
That night we try to watch a movie but the stomach pain has already started.
I think I’m gong to be sick, I say.
You’re fine, she says. You just need some sleep.
That morning saw us in the car, driving six hours from Disneyland to Carmel. We stopped for lunch at Pea Soup Andersons. We each had pea soup. I got mine in a bread bowl.
Before that, two days in Disneyland. I just quit my job and we celebrated by wearing mouse ears and ordering very expensive glasses of Caymus.
You have to write a lot now, my mother kept saying.
Right, but there are other things, I said.
I start throwing up at one in the morning. The drive to San Francisco the next morning is miserable. I keep a paper bag by my feet. Every half an hour, my mother tries to get me to take a sip of water.
That night I eat half a bowl of garlic noodles and fall asleep at eight o’ clock. When my mother gets back to the hotel, hours later, I sit straight up in bed.
I feel only slightly better the next morning. Only slightly better the morning after that.
On Sunday we spend the day at the beach. The sand is black and very hot. We hike up to bunker ruins and then back down again. We eat dinner that night in a Thai restaurant. They make us take our shoes off.
My mother leaves on Tuesday morning. The line at the airport is long but she skips it all. Her wrist is wrapped in an ace bandage and they take pity on her.
Driving to S’s apartment afterward. So early. The highways are still empty. The sun is barely up.
It is three weeks until my book comes out and I am just now beginning to think everything is real.
photographs taken in Sausalito, California at Rodeo Beach.