Saturday, March 09, 2013

On the 1

There’s this spot on the 1 heading north, where you come through a tunnel and the first thing you see is ocean meeting sky. It always surprises me and I involuntarily take a deeper breath than I’ve taken the entire drive. It’s when I remember where I’m heading and why I got in the car in the first place – Malibu Mountains, Pacific Ocean.  I am no longer just a car on pavement in a stream of other cars on pavement. I have a destination. 

As I continue north, while simultaneously bending and wending west along the curve of the water’s line, I see more sea, more surfers, campers, doers, and I feel safer. Definition forms around me and my present is engulfed in place.  Rock and dirt shape a sheltering wall to my right and the yellow and white lines are now bowling alley bumpers keeping me sturdily in my path. I have only to continue.

Eventually, I pass the Smokey The Bear wooden cutout, with his perma-painted-on-pants, and I’m assured that the fire danger is LOW today. It’s a delightfully guileless omen and I feel grateful that neither the hiking trail I may follow nor the lifeguard station I may sit beside is likely to catch fire (today). This is very good.  It seems more accurate than Doppler radar. This woody almanac is a sign in all senses of the word.

I always hit the curve where the road disappears before I expect to. There’s a stretch where it bends behind the next crag and the panorama fills with more ocean than land, seeming to spill over the shoreline, onto the sand, and roil right for my road – but just in time, the earth turns and the highway opens up, and I see I have as much distance to travel as I desire.

Thursday, March 07, 2013


I don't mean to peek. But I’m sitting so close to the boy at the cafĂ© and his open spiral notebook and scrawling script seem to seduce me. He's left handed, and I sit on his right, so his arm doesn't hide the page as he drags his pen across. I strain to decipher his font, the loopy letters blur together. So I am stuck, determined to untangle the text but unable to quickly dip in and pluck out a sentence to add here “________” to have some part of this boy who sits beside me, intense and passionate and pouring himself out. I want to though, to steal something private from this boy’s journal (while I hover over my own, wary of the woman on my other side, with sunglasses on, possibly picking through my page for a sip of something juicy).

The boy finishes a page and swiftly flips the spiral notebook on its back. Immediately his pen starts ambling across the page, and with just one line to study, I do it. I laser into that line… "I’m done with it." YES. I feel guilty and triumphant and thrilled, shoplifting this little detail. He’s 'done with it' I think to myself. WHAT (or who) is he done with, and WHY? It makes me consider slipping on my shades to pickpocket a few more items but there isn’t time, I need more now. He's halfway down the page, and I see where his arm was covering the beginning of the sentence. He actually wrote "I don't think I’m done with it." Huh. NOT done with it. NOT done? I feel mad relief, getting the whole sentence, as if I’d almost been stuck with a counterfeit, a knockoff Prada, But now I know I got the real deal.

What's strange is, I’m not this person, this sly-sneaky-stealer. I’m not one who's tempted to look at a co-worker's calendar or shuffle through a friend's pile of mail while house-sitting. I even feel guilty reading someone's newspaper over their shoulder in line or on an airplane (I mean, they bought it, it's officially theirs). And good God, a journal? Someone's DIARY? That's a whole other thing, the safe-haven of the soul, Sacred Territory. It's something I would... I am about to write, "...never do..." but stop. Because, well, I just did. I pause and check myself for guilt, like tenderly touching a new bruise. But I’m surprised to fine none. And I’m even more surprised that I’m glad.