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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Unsolicited advice

My husband, our youngest son (now 26) and I recently took a short trip to visit another son, who is in the Navy and recently transferred to San Diego. He is in his fifth year of service and has spent a good deal of time stationed in Japan, so having him not only return stateside, but to have him on the same coast, meant a visit was in order. And I can tell you now, with certainty, things have changed to the serious.

Because we booked an early flight, we decided to stay in Sacramento the night before, where my daughter has an apartment. Driving out of the foothills to the city was uneventful but shortly after taking the exit to the downtown area we came upon a police barricade followed by over a dozen officers on bicycles peddling their way down the street on which she lives. As we parked the car and began walking toward her apartment, we could see another barricade a few blocks down and heard helicopter overhead! Obviously concerned, we were told the city had been experiencing rising tension as the outcome of the presidential election had not yet been tallied and officials were exercising caution and exhibiting “a presence.” It did not make me feel better! We went to bed still hearing helicopters but did not hear of any violence. When booking the trip, I failed to take into consideration the tone of the nation immediately following the election. I have been naïve regarding the level of ongoing tension the city has been enduring this year. I had to see it for myself to fully “get it” but it is not new. Sadly, it is becoming more the norm.

As a mother, knowing my child (also 26) was becoming accustomed to a “heavy police presence” in her neighborhood due to the proximity to parks that double as staging areas for protests, I found myself wanting to offer more than a little parental advice. They aren’t ever too old to listen to some sound advice about personal safety, are they? But everything I had to offer, had already been considered by my daughter. The balance between encouraging activism and well-being is tough. Luckily, my girl is of strong conviction but also sensible (or lucky, or a little of both). Anyway, so far so good.

Early the next morning we headed off to the Sacramento airport. Like many others, it had been a while – nine months to be exact—since I had taken a flight to anywhere. While I was looking forward to the visit, there was still a little bit of apprehension around travelling during this pandemic and, too late, I realized an extra layer of tension around the election. The plane was far from full, but the tone was serious for everyone involved. The usually jovial crew was somber. On board service was minimal. It may have been the early hour, but people were compliant and quiet. The staff at the airport, the other passengers, the flight crew all seemed weary and I guess they are. I guess I am also.

I plan to be patient and have faith things are going to be fine – that is advice I would give to anyone, myself included.

San Diego is a lovely city. It is also a city that is accustomed to frequent overhead noise in the form of military aircraft including the Marine’s Osprey – a “multi-mission, tiltrotor military aircraft with both vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities” (Wikipedia) and other seaplanes. The military presence is very present. It felt a bit futuristic at times as multiple aircraft would zoom over the ocean which was dotted with aircraft carriers and flotilla. Enjoy the sun, the surf, the SEALs in training! Again, this is not new. I am simply naïve.

We spent the next few days observing the very obvious amount of military and enjoyed the beaches, did a little hiking, and a lot of eating and drinking while getting to know this adult version of our son, daughter in law and their brand new puppy! Again, my desire to parent was kicking in. I had all sorts of unsolicited advice to offer on a number of topics from where his wife might consider working (closer to their apartment), to where they might live (once they knew the area better), to how to live in an apartment with a cat and a dog (too late on what I would really advise), to what type of careers might be available after enlistment, to diet, exercise and daily habits. To his credit, he took it all in. I don’t think I was as overbearing as it reads here, but I didn’t hold back much! Honestly, it’s all well intentioned and if I have learned anything after three decades of parenting it is that they will do whatever they choose! One can only hope some of the sage guidance is heard. Again, so far, so good!

We also talked a little bit about the struggle and excitement of just starting out in life juxtaposed against parents who are on the other side of the spectrum. In this new reality, we both are a little perplexed on how to plan amid so much unknown. There, I had little advice to offer.

We promised to visit again soon, hoping for happier, healthier days ahead in a united nation. In just a few hours, we were back in our favored hamlet. No police barricades on the streets. No fighter jets overhead. Just a little snow on the ground and a hint of winter in the air.

While I am happy whenever I can spend time with the kids, the trip affirmed our life in this rural burg is utopic. I think I will stay here, just a little bit longer. My wanderlust has been put (at least temporarily) to rest. I plan to be patient and have faith things are going to be fine – that is advice I would give to anyone, myself included.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.


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