socal trip oct 24

15 On the puddle-jumper from SFO to ACV, last of a two-legged flight. Filtered through black and white to highlight SO TIRED while still minimizing actual unattractiveness of SO TIRED face. (Dramatic eyes!) Aching from bad bout of insomnia the night before – I am alternating between taking various remedies and not – but that did not mitigate the happiness of seeing an old friend, visiting Nick and generally upbeat work meetings. Mostly I dozed through the flight. In my joy at landing and seeing Bobby waiting for me, I dashed through the revolving door completely forgetting to grab my carryon from the runway cart. “Don’t you have a bag?” Bobby asked. “Oh, no!” I cried. “Yes! It’s… there.” I could see it, but you can’t get back out once you’ve come in – security! – so we had to wait until they brought the luggage in so I could pick it up and we could leave. My husband did not point out my stupidity, which is why our marriage has lasted.

14 An impulsive riff on Ryan Adam’s “La Cienega Just Smiled” from my favorite of his albums and aimed at like-minded friends, including Lila Nelson, an exquisite singer-songwriter who once wrote a great blog post deconstructing her own fascination with that song, which I wish I could find; alas, the Internet has let me down. (“See you around…”)

13 I’m broke right now, so broke from having a gap between jobs and taking a vacation and realizing a greater need to stretch my dollars in hindsight than I did in fore-. Nonetheless, work travel afforded me a 10th floor view of the Ventura coastline for two days. I woke to this sunrise Tuesday morning and when I pulled the curtains wide to soak it in, noted the palm tree sticker – to keep people from crashing into the glass on their way to the balcony, I theorized. And appreciated.

12 Sunset from the C Street surf break, into which a gorgeous little south swell came, all glassy chest-high rights lasting for days. Did I have a board with me? No. Did I include renting a board in my plans? No. (See previous “broke” note.) Was I frothing jonesing craving aching wanting losing my mind? Yes. Definitely, yes.

11 Since I couldn’t surf, I took a lunch break walk and swim instead. The sun warmed my back, my bare legs. The water was that temperature where you gasp a teensy bit getting in, then immediately feel only refreshed, buoyant, jubilant. I dove under waves, swam out past the breakers, grinned to be alive and in the ocean. Let the waves pick me up and tumble me back toward shore. On the way back, I noted roses dotting the waterline. A bouquet tossed? In celebration? Rejection? There’s a writing prompt here.

10 Just classic SoCal, all palm trees and tequila sunrise colors. I’m 16 again.

The Crowne Plaza in Ventura (see previous “10th floor” note). My room wasn’t ready yet, so I sat outside answering emails and sipping a margarita while waiting. The patio has glass panes to shelter guests from the onshore breezes; I liked the catching of the reflection. From these small moments of creativity come sustaining pleasure.

Upon arriving at my room.

Having meetings in Ventura offered me the chance to visit Nick in Santa Barbara. We grabbed tacos and then took a long stroll around Campus Point, marveling at how people will surf the tiniest waves and wishing we could join them. Talking school and work and life. I don’t worry any less than I always do, but this watching my children transform into adults brings some lightening, sort of like when they cease being toddlers and turn into children who know not to run into the street or stick keys into the electrical socket. You can leave them playing in the living room while you make dinner and they’ll probably be okay. This is much more profound, of course – the realization that brutalizes all parents at some point: you have no control over their fate. All you can do is provide layers of love (and, if you have it, money), but they are their own people. The sooner we realize that, the better, because what we must do is support who they are, the dreams they have, not the ones we’ve been nursing for them. The thing I always wish, at wells and when blowing out birthday candles, is that my children are happy, healthy and outlive me. This is an obvious wish and okay to tell.

6 Tacos!

I’d stayed the night at a hotel in Agoura Hills because I’d had a workshop in Calabasas. Someone tipped me off to hiking trails nearby. I spent about half an hour panting up hillsides, happy to stretch my legs and ever appreciative that open space exists in the L.A. basin before saying to myself, “Why am I hiking around in the desert when I could be at the beach?” So I left.

4 Room with a view. Of this adorable couple loving it up in the hot tub. In the background: screaming children, a barking dog, a boisterous wedding party. I brought a glass of wine up from the bar and worked.

3 Quintessential SoCal in El Segundo. (I did not leave my wallet.) This hotel – a Marriott Courtyard – was surprisingly great. The next morning I convinced myself to do laps in the pool and spent 40 minutes swimming and treading water, a perfect antidote to the hours of being cramped in planes. (They were short flights. Not that bad.) It’s strange how I sometimes have to talk myself into doing things I love and know will make me happy. Relocating one’s body can be such a struggle when the mind is being lazy.

2 A snafu in my hotel reservation left me hanging in the lobby for a while. I was tired of looking at my computer and phone, had read all my magazines, so meditated on the salt and pepper shakers instead.

Arrived at LAX, caught the Hertz shuttle to pick up my rental car. The driver had waved me onboard despite the already packed-in crowd. I clung to the handle next to him and hovered, my reflection above me marking me as just another chick with artful blonde highlights and black shades, not as beautiful as The Beautiful People or I’d have a driver, not a rental car, because that is the way we think when we sink back into the tanned, golden embrace of El Lay.