A Story About Palo Alto.

A Story About Palo Alto
381 words . Jan 2013 . This is mostly true

It was during my first time in Palo Alto, two years before, that I suspected travelling might be waning as an antidote to my restlessness. In search of Stanford off-campus housing, I alighted from the SamBus in the wrong spot twice before I tried to ask for directions. It was September, the autumn heat simmering sweat in my ratty collar. Tall palms lined the residential street where I’d stepped off, arcing to an infinite point, and the only conspicuous building was a church of orange stucco about fifty meters ahead.

The church’s front doors were locked on a Tuesday afternoon, so I creaked open a side entrance with a cluster of balloons tied to the handle. A young lady with hip-length brown hair stood in the corner of what looked to be an activity room. She wore a blue cotton dress and was rocking a baby in her arms when I said Hello.

“Can I help you?” the girl asked. Her vowels were cloaked in a heavy Mexican accent.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said, wheeling along the floor. “I think I’m a little lost.”

The girl, who looked about eighteen or nineteen, had a tall, aquiline nose that twitched when she squinted. My words seemed to surprise her and she pulled the baby, gurgling, closer to her chest.

“The Father isn’t in yet,” she told me, primly, like I’d said something wrong.

“I’m sorry? The Father?”

“Yes. Father Brown. He’ll have to get you an appointment if you’re a new member.”

New member? It was then that I realized what she thought this was.

“Oh no.” My Bay Area map crackled in my bag as I shuffled it out from its place beside my passport and DS-2019, shaking my head and blushing. “I’m not—I didn’t mean lost spiritually. I’m actually lost. Ha-ha,” I tried to laugh, “Um, where is Escondido Village?”

Fortunately, It wasn’t far at all, at least that’s what I figured out when I managed to extract directions from Father Brown in exchange for a nicely-folded Jesus brochure. But I have wondered if it were a divine sign that brought me there that day. Was God telling me that I needed God? I didn’t stop to think that even considering this question probably meant I was a believer.

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