Monday, August 29, 2011

How Hank Fitz and I Fell Down the Rabbit Hole Into Filoli Gardens

You know how every once a millennium you get to experience the odd serendipity? Well, that’s what just happened to Hank Fitz (my gay Pretend Husband) and me on our way to a high-end estate sale.

Hank Fitz loves to go to estate sales and since neither of us can afford real vacations, we pretend the estate sale IS the vacation, which sort of works because, after all, we get to fly (okay, drive) to a new country (all right, neighborhood) filled with new people (well, we don’t know them) and new things to see (salt and pepper shaker sets from around 1940). And, if Hank Fitz finds a tie that he likes, we even bring back souvenirs.

So this time, while trying to reach some crazy address in the high curvy hills of San Mateo, we got totally lost and found ourselves driving down the kind of beautiful road that makes you think you're in Italy.  And on this road I saw a sign that said Filoli Gardens. Which, because of the vowels, really convinced me we were in Italy.

That sign reminded me that Filoli Gardens was one of those places I’d always sort of wanted to go to but hadn’t because, as a lifelong paranoid, I’d assumed it would be Too Hard and Expensive, plus, like all well-known destinations, Relentlessly Crowded and Sweaty and Hot.

But when Hank Fitz told me he’d always meant to visit it too, I turned into a hippie—or maybe a Christian—and said god or karma must have brought us here (on a sunny day that was warm but Not Hot!) for A Reason. To which he replied that it was his inability to followYahoo directions that had brought us here, but he drove us through the gate anyway.

If you’ve been to Filoli, you know what we experienced. If you haven’t, let me just say that the entrance fee was $15 ($12 for seniors, not that I am one), which is what a glass of wine costs you now, and the parking lot cost nothing at all and was big enough that we could find a space quickly and not have to have nervous breakdowns.

Another good thing is that no one was mean to us. Indeed, the docents were so lovely and kind that both Hank Fitz and I wanted to take a few home to be our new mothers. Yet another good thing is that on this particular day (Saturday and yet for some reason not crowded) most of the other visitors seemed to be either Older or Fatter than us, which made us feel vaguely young and attractive. Granted, there were too many couples—okay, only couples—but since Hank Fitz and I sort of LOOK like a couple, we got to forgo the twin Envy-ectomies.

There’s no point in my trying to describe indescribable gardens (you can see them yourself on so let me just say they made me remember the Power of Beauty, how it can just overwhelm you and then make you weep as you sit with Hank Fitz on a nice wooden bench because your mother--who once, to your ten-year old puzzlement and despair, planted plastic pansies in your own back yard garden--never got to go to Filoli and now, being dead, most surely would not.

There’s a house to see too, which Hank Fitz and I strolled through but did not really care about because we’d both been spoiled by the completely crazed mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, which, if you've seen them, you know what I mean. But I’d recommend you walk through it anyway as a prelude to a two to three hour walk through the gardens, after which you will feel so Soothed and Relaxed and Inspired you will need to get something to eat.

And yes, even the café was sublime. Hank Fitz and I sat at a table outside and wondered aloud how we’d gotten so lucky and if we’d ever get so lucky again.

But then I realized we didn’t need luck. Filoli is about a ten second drive from the city of Boringame, where I am currently living (until the house I live under gets sold to a Horrid Rich Couple who will promptly evict me), so as long as we each have $15 to spend, we can visit Filoli whenever we want.
Which for me (I can't speak for Hank Fitz) might well be every weekend from now unto death.


  1. Glad you had a nice weekend :-)

  2. Or you could both become docents. . .

  3. Benf said it first!

    & my favorite part: "after which you will feel so Soothed and Relaxed and Inspired you will need to get something to eat."