View from Rue Saint-Georges

Forget Your Troubles

Taking a break from it all in a small California town

By Thomas Chatterton Williams | October 25, 2017
William Krebaum/Flickr
William Krebaum/Flickr

There are some places where the sunlight slants at such an angle and saturates the grass and trees to such a degree that it alters not just your mood but your outlook on life. The little, one-street town of Bolinas, California, has this kind of light, to which I am probably especially sensitive just now, having come from the unrelenting gray of northeastern Germany.

Last Sunday, we were driving back from a friend’s wedding in Sonoma and turned off Highway 1 somewhere in Marin, about an hour outside of San Francisco. We made the detour into Bolinas because a friend had once written something about “the town at the edge of the world” that I couldn’t forget. It felt like time travel. The one café was closed for the afternoon, so we went across the street to what can only be called a saloon, a Wild West sort of place whose only concessions to the modern era were a flat screen TV broadcasting the 49ers game and an iPad configured to capture electronic payments. Aside from that, it felt like a gunslinger could step in at any moment through the blinding light in the doorway and shoot up the place. We took our coffees to go and walked to the end of the road, where the sand began. In the distance was the ocean, dozens of surfers drifting in and out with the ebb and flow. There were high cliffs above and a few simple houses perched on stilts along the water. My niece bolted across the sand as we sat down on a ledge and the world receded. I think it was the first time in the past year that I’ve been in America and managed to forget entirely about Trump.

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