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We arrived in San Francisco on Friday morning after a grueling night of travel—90 minutes in the car, 75 minutes on the bus, nearly 7 hours on the sold-out flight. With next to no sleep, stiff and sore, we gathered up our luggage and stepped out into the fresh air and hailed a cab.

Everyone in sight was masked, including the four of us, and keeping at a safe and respectful distance.

We made our way to the Airbnb in North Beach, stunned into silence by both the beauty and the hustle and bustle that surrounded us on our way. We met our masked hosts outside, made our way upstairs to the apartment, got the lay of the land, got settled in, and then dived right into wearing ourselves out even further on the first day—food, coffee, hot chocolate, the constant wind off the ocean, gawking at everything in sight, racking up thousands of steps walking up and down hills that would be impossible to navigate in a New England winter.

Everyone in sight was masked, including the four of us, and keeping at a safe and respectful distance.

I could launch into a detailed list of everything we’ve seen so far, but I won’t—not because I don’t want to share the awe and excitement of what we’ve been experiencing here, but because I’m feeling more moved to express how incredibly grateful I am to be here at all, to experience any measure of this world, the very idea which, after the last 14 months, seems like a miracle to me.

It hit me most clearly when Shawn and I made our way on Sunday afternoon down the steep path to Mile Rock Beach and we took in the stunning view on offer there.

I looked around this little cove and saw families and couples and lone travelers, folks of all ages and walks of life, relaxing and enjoying themselves in this beautiful place, and still, everyone in sight was standing by with masks, including us, and keeping at a safe and respectful distance.

This is how we got through, and continue to get through. By keeping ourselves and each other safe as best as we could, we get through—to trust those who developed and created and administered the vaccines; to trust every other driver on the road and every passenger on the flight and everyone on every sidewalk and walking path. We trust one another to take care of one another.

And this has always been our circumstance—we each have trust in so many people, most of whom we’ll never know and never get to thank personally. Every single individual in our food chain; the line of people responsible for the successful turn of every water tap and the throw of every light switch. The list is nearly infinite. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it is the fact of our interdependence, which can only exist with a certain measure of trust.

And I don’t mean faith, which is belief in something without evidence. What I’m pondering here is a reasoned trust—we believe in one another and we hold each other up because it’s the tried and true way that we hold ourselves up, too. Every link in the chain is only as strong as the weakest, and each one is essential to the health and success of every other.

And this extends to the very trust in this beautiful earth that holds us all in place and provides everything that any one of us would ever need to survive and thrive in this life. Everything is possible because we trust the earth, and one another, to hold us.

Earlier in the day, the four of us were sitting in the restful paradise of the Japanese tea garden at Golden Gate Park. After we had finished our snacks, Shawn asked, ‘I’m assuming that no one wants to visit the gift shop?’ We all shook our heads silently, and then Ann said, ‘The gift is out here.’