Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Peace on a Sandy Shore

I picked up a few coins someone had dropped in the sand, bought a peace sign from Barbara on the beach who confessed an obsession with her torch, purchased a new toe ring, orange with hand painted hearts and flowers, from a little shop called Namaste. Santa Barbara filled my heart and sang to my soul. I sat for a minute on the pier watching the boats come in. Something about sailing has always spoken to me. Although I confess I wouldn’t have the balls to hit the water as man in charge. I would likely end up the poor guy who sailed the rental onto shore. It occurred to me as I walked past, flip flops dangling from my right hand, husband’s hand in my left, that nothing about a sailboat belonged where children sat with plastic pails and shovels, where prepubescent men chased soccer balls and frisbees. As I sat listening to the seals, I saw the line attached to the two boats and heard the rescue crew yell at the kayakers to GET OUT OF THE WAY! Further out, daddy and daughters enjoyed a little paddle board bonding time. I sat there, smile on my face, breathing deeply the mix of fish, salt, and sunshine, thinking that if I imagined any harder I could not create a more perfect day.

I picked up a new dress, tie dyed and full of funk, from one of the shops in town, browsed the bookstore for a few new reads. The sidewalks smelled of coffee shops, pastries, and the pee and unwashed bodies of the homeless that littered the streets. I ordered the best pasta I have had in my life, a capellini pomodoro heavy on the garlic. A couple glasses of a local wine. For lunch the next day I calorie splurged on tiny tacos on a fancy plate, chips, and a salsa that had me begging for a refill on my sweet iced tea. Then it was time to check out of the hotel, the hotel with the creaking floors, confusing gated elevator, and fire escape outside my bedroom window. The hotel with the view of the crowd on the street below, the homeless man with the dog and the sign that read “Smiles for Free or for Cheap,” the really hot girl and the guy she was with making a show of giving her movie star kisses and grabbing her ass, the woman on the bench crafting flowers from fabric scraps and pipe cleaner stems. This is what I love about road trips.

This, and eavesdropping. Like with the conversation in the lobby of the hotel as I enjoyed my morning bagel and mug of Earl Grey. The grandparents sitting behind me offering new parenting advice to their twenty-something son. Mom had left the baby with the three to take a little stroll. The two couples were obviously at odds on both feeding and sleep. I wanted to turn and offer up a word to dear old Gram. I wanted to tell her that if she had never personally breastfed a baby she had no business undermining the confidence of her son who had apparently bravely made a decision that went against everything his own family supported. I wanted to show the son that I had his back, that I believed in him. I wanted to give him a BRAVO for supporting his wife and doing a great thing for his kid. Instead, I picked the last few of my grapes from their stems, pushed my chair in, and left the room.

We went from there to Vegas.

Vegas, to me, has always represented everything that is dark about humanity. Illicit sex. Uncontrolled drinking. Sad efforts at striking it rich. Cocktail? Smoke? Throw another twenty at the machine. Concrete. Big lights. Loud cars and loose women. I sat over breakfast, sautéed zucchini and the house potatoes, admiring the older woman in the glitzy blouse, sequins sparkling as she took another bite of her eggs Florentine. I especially enjoyed the red, white, and blue shimmering top hat that completed the look. I know there are some who save and schedule and count the days until they fly out with friends to get wild with their morals and their money. That’s just not the scene for me.

There I was in the middle of all those lights and people and all I could think of was the way the sun hung over the water back at the beach. The gulls flying over sails in the harbor. The couple making out on the double wide towel. The homeless guy and the mermaid he had sculpted from the sand. The breeze. All of it cool and soul filling and perfect.

Some might be okay with concrete, flashy billboards, high rise hotels. On my part, I’ll take a gorgeous sunset, ropes tied neatly to the dock, and a barefoot walk along a salty shore.

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