Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Welcome to my new life

The east side of U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T. S. Eliot

On April 22, after 21-plus years of enjoying the landscapes and rhythms of northern California, my wife, Jodi, and I waved goodbye to the San Francisco Bay Area and headed east on Interstate 80. Our final destination? None other than the greater Washington, D.C. area, our new home.

As it happened, over the next week, we drove 2,950.6 miles – covering 13 states starting from California. We crossed the finish line in Maryland on Saturday afternoon, April 29, after beginning the final day of our journey in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Our Passivhaus town home in
Mount Rainier, Maryland.
Our travel week was very busy for us, but one in which we both embraced. After all, we had purchased a brand new house, a Passivhaus town home, in funky Mount Rainier, Maryland, just a couple of short blocks across the District line from Washington and about 15 minutes by car south of the University of Maryland campus in College Park. And, on May 1, my wife began a dream job in research and development at the Library of Congress, which served as the impetus for our leaving California for the Mid-Atlantic east coast.

As we drove across our beautiful and diverse country observing – through the snow-capped Sierra Mountains of California and Nevada, across the massive and great Salt Lake of Utah, alongside the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado, across acres and acres of Kansas wheat fields, near the picturesque Gateway Arch of St. Louis, through the Big Ten country of Indiana University in Bloomington, beside the Great American city of Cincinnati and up and down the hilltops of Morgantown – I was reminded often of how Mother Nature often holds up a mirror to us so that we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, of renewal and of transformation in our lives. Our hours and days on the road were also filled with an abundance of music CDs – Pink Martini, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Valerie June, Diana Reeves – a variety of NPR podcasts like "Make Me Smart," and we tried to limit our driving to daytime hours so we could rest and renew ourselves at night.

The scenic beauty of the Donner Summit as seen driving
along Interstate 80 through the California Sierra Mountains.
Fortunately, social media and the Internet enable us to stay more easily connected than ever before with family and friends and we still plan to follow and support our favorite Bay Area professional and collegiate sports teams – just from a different city and time zone. So far, we are enjoying the fine public radio offerings from WAMU in Washington, D.C. as well as reading the Washington Post and the national print edition of The New York Times. And, we've learned thanks to the University of Maryland, which won both the men's and women's national championships in lacrosse, that people in this part of the country do take their lacrosse seriously. We've got tickets to see a Washington Nationals baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, and already we've been to a WNBA women's professional basketball game, too. Yes, there's plenty of rich of history and culture that awaits us in and around the nation's capital city, through its many museums and monuments, parks and trails – and I'm sure our free summer weekends will fill up fast with things to see and do. Already, we've explored historic Annapolis (which I'll write more about in the weeks to come) – it's only about 40 minutes away by car – and I'm sure we'll be back, soon.

Our future looks bright – and it doesn't even have anything to do with the abundance of sunshine we've experienced during the past month. Indeed, as the French novelist Marcel Proust once said, "the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

This year, the City ruled the Land

With a near-perfect 16-1 postseason, the Golden State Warriors won their
second NBA Championship in three years on Monday night.

If you're a Golden State Warriors fan, like I am, you're probably in a pretty good mood today. After all, this is the year that the City ruled the Land.

Congratulations are in order for the Golden State Warriors on the occasion of winning their second NBA Championship in three seasons. On a late, spring Monday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-120, to win their best-of-7 NBA Final, four games to one.

Indeed, as Warriors fans know, there's strength in numbers.

The much-heralded Kevin Durant, who joined the Warriors family nearly a year ago on July 4, 2016, in search of his first championship, garnered the Finals MVP by pouring in 39 points in the clincher. Teammate Stephen Curry, himself a Finals MVP when the Warriors won it all in 2015, added 34. Together, they were virtually unstoppable. In defeat, LeBron James scored a game-high 41 points for the Cavaliers. After the final buzzer sounded, James found both Durant and Curry on the court and offered props to both. Very classy move.

Looking back, the Warriors won the NBA Championship for a reason – they had the best collection of committed players and a coaching staff who molded this group of highly talented and motivated athletes into a winning team. They played with joy and enthusiasm, beauty and unity. Throughout their historic 16-1 post-season run, there was always a sense of passion on display and their desire to achieve a common goal of winning the title was always in focus. On any given night, in any given game, the Warriors always hustled and more often than not, found a way to win.

Thank you, players: Matt, Ian, Stephen, Kevin, Draymond, Andre, Damian, Shaun, Kevon, James Michael, Patrick, JaVale, Zaza, Klay and David. Thank you coaches: Steve, Mike, Ron, Jarron, Bruce, Chris and Willie.

Long after the game ended but not before the celebration had waned, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, sporting a championship tee to go with his Champagne-soaked-and-spiked coiffure, reflected on the championship moment during a televised interview outside Oracle Arena, among a hearty group of blue and gold-clad Warriors fans. As always, with the right sense of thought and tone of voice – and with graciousness, too –  his words spoke volumes:

"There's so much joy, so much love. It's an incredible group of guys," said Kerr. "We know how talented they are. They are so committed to each other and to the greater good. That's ultimately what puts you over the top. We have the talent – obviously – to compete for a title every year, but what puts you over the top, I think, is when you have that level of respect and commitment to each other."

This year, it was the Warriors turn to win it all.