My trip was pretty tremendous. There was a lot of love and fun packed into a week, a lot of laughter and old friends, a lot of sunshine and long walks. There was the sparkle of California coastline and tacos and tequila. There was exploration that I've dreamed of doing for years -- Ojai, Santa Ynez, the mountains above Santa Barbara.
Sadly, the group could only hold strong for a day or two. By day four, it was just me and Sarm waving the adventure flag above the sea. We stayed with my oldest friend, Meg, and her sweet family in Santa Ynez. Our little Sideways adventure was so grounding and so easy. There is this tremendous comfort that is old friends. Thanks, guys.
By Wednesday my need to take a really long hike took over. Sarmeesha poured over websites and we finally found what looked to be the one. It overlooked the ocean. We would bag a little So. Cal peak. We were all in.
And even though we didn't find the hike we'd read about, what we discovered was equally alluring.
And then our adventure took a bit of a turn. I pieced together some journal bits for my poetry class this week about that big bummer of a surprise.
Shards of Glass So Green and Shiny In the Sunlight
There are moments you just can’t really begin to write
about, the peace of an old friend’s home, the soft and
fast rain, faint hint of lilac,
an old oak and the lean white legs of eucalyptus,
then hours up a trail of dusty earth, wild
fennel and sage, the rough and intrusive fingers
of chaparral. I walk and walk, hide in sand carved caves,
move like an anemone through mossy oak groves, open
and unexpected until the trail
reaches above the sea, a gaping breath, and I’m afraid to
sometimes it’s all too much to take in,
as down below, a man,
I always assume so,
shatters both windows, grabs the bags, cash you earned and saved
for that precious bite of Unagi, Hamachi flown in from Japan,
when all you need is right here, here where sand pelts my face,
sticks to my lips,
each little spot of bone and ash,
a seagull’s brittle skeleton,
fills my ears and eyes while green wash
pulses and pounds .
I really can’t believe it,
the duress and serenity of her gray wings and still body, the white
crests of foam, the break and break and break.
So, yeah, after our triumphant walk, after the last high fives, we walked into a pool of green glass, both our purses stollen from the backseat, two windows shattered. From there it was a police report and then the numbed drive back into Solvang where we walked arm in arm through the Farmer's Market, bought flowers for Meg, told the olive guy the story. Stranger's sympathy inspired another telling of the tale, this time the bar owner sending us on our way with a complimentary bottle of wine. And then, while looking for the sushi joint to drown our sorrows, we saw the "sign" the OPEN of the local garage, even at seven in the evening. Josh, the kind shop owner, warmly measured the window holes, cut cardboard with his exacto knife, sturdily taped things together. And then the bottle of wine went to him, to bring to his wife since he'd stayed at work so late.
So the universe is kind and bad things happen to good people but then good people show up to prove them wrong. We managed to move through this frustration with some perspective and grace. That said, I will never hoard cash in my underwear drawer again for a trip. Sometimes I think I have too much expectation. Or maybe there's no metaphor at all and I just lost my street edge, forgot that you don't lock your purse in the car in LA. Even when in the mountains, at a trailhead. Goodness.
So after the debacle, I was pretty happy to pull back up in Pasadena. My dad was an absolute gem about it all (it was, after all, his car and, of course, the damage was less than my deductible). Note to self: never, ever get mad at your kids for an accident and always, always, be happy they are safe and sound. Dad made me cry happy tears with his kindness.
And then there is Hilary. And Mazzy. And their little home. And my mom and her big thoughts and blue eyes. There was Hollywood on the train and Broadway's best at the Pantages. There was ripped tee shirts and jean shorts and some hot moves on the dance floor to Erasure. There was my family dancing with me, laughing as Hilary and I dug deep to produce instant choreography, the years of dancing together imprinted on our brains forever.
And we had it all.
And then I got to return home to my babies. And lie next to them while they slept, my midnight flight not allowing me to see them until Sunday morning. And then I heard their little pit pats and kissed their sweet cheeks and breathed in every ounce of them and felt so darn blessed by it all.