Friday, December 14, 2001

Juliette arrived on September 19th. It was to be a short visit; she'd lost a week when they closed the airports after the September 11 tragedy, so she could only stay for three weeks before she had to start medical school in Germany.

It was kind of a surprise for both of us to be together again so soon; when we parted in Thailand, neither of us knew when, if ever, we'd see each other again. She'd gotten a deal on a flight ticket and we both had some time, so we took advantage of the opportunity.

Often while I was away, I longed for the comfort and joy of being with close friends who have known me forever. But in the culture shock of coming home after two years in Asia, it was great to be with someone who really understood what I was going through now. Someone who was used to examining the happiness gained from spending money, for example, and came to the same conclusions I did. For us, it wasn't the least bit strange to buy day-old bagels on an outing to San Francisco, eating them on the sidewalk of Valencia Street with peanut butter and marmalade we'd brought from home. We were used to this kind of living.

For our road trip, we borrowed my old van back from David.

Wow. Back in the cockpit of the Roach. My home for a year, this giant green monster held more comforts of familiarity for me than any house. The big question was, would it make it to the Grand Canyon and back? Juliette had a plane to catch, and I really only knew how to fix the van if a particular thing went wrong.

"Let's go two weeks spending no money on food," Juliette said as I coaxed the green machine up to freeway speeds, leaving the megalopolis of the San Francisco Bay Area.

I laughed. We'd already had a lucky beginning when Jeff offered us his old food, and we were making plans to learn how to dumpster dive. Who knows? We certainly had a history of being luck's children.

"Okay," I grinned, not knowing how serious either of us were.