11 May 2009 at 2:01 pm
I burst into tears on my way to work on Friday, looking up at a half-century's worth of destruction.
There was nothing to do but sit in my apartment with the windows closed and a damp towel blocking the ash from seeping in through the threshold. I was in panic attack mode all morning, severe anxiety, butterflies with wings of fire scorching my diaphragm, you know what that's like? Also, it was in the 90s and my apartment was already clean anyway. So I went to the beach.
I had just parked illegally across from the proper parking lot for Refugio and was walking towards solitude when some bar folk called to invite me to Big Sur. There's no reason to stick around a town that's burning down, but they were leaving Right Then and the thought of driving a half an hour back into a Don DeLillo novel to throw my shit into a bag to trip over roads was not what my nerves were in the mood for.
Three more people called and left voicemails trying to coo me into a weekend of midnight hikes and bonfires and wine, but I was exactly where I wanted to be: away.
Friday night, my barback, "The most attractive person I've never been attracted to," and I make plans to go to the Dutch Gardens, his favorite restaurant and one that I'd been meaning to hit up for years.
Saturday afternoon, the new Merc bartender is just off work at the Gardens, so she joins us for lunch, and Pav makes an appearance as well, sporting his mid-quarter beard and a sweater and jeans in 90 degree weather.
It's a clique, but I'm ok with it.
We each drink a Klokke Roeland, draught, obvs, and I try sauerkraut for the first time (Lindsey will laugh) before we caravan LA-style over to the eastside to the house the new bartender is housesitting, an old Victorian filled with journals and herbs and art.
Our hostess handrolls cigarettes for those who want them (it has still been 16 months since my last) and sets up a few blankets near the garden while we drink iced spearmint tea. Pav finds a few books he thinks I'll enjoy, and we flip through old encyclopedias and the journal of that kid who was stoned to death in South Africa.
Pav has to go grade papers, so the barback and the new girl and I walk to the beach. You should always walk to the beach, and here's why:
You'll inevitably walk past a wine shop, where you will go in and buy a bottle of rose. You'll wander past the produce store, where you can buy kombucha and freshly baked rolls and goat cheese and dates. You'll settle down at the beach and eat sandwiches and oranges and split a bottle of wine and wait for the sun to set. You'll take a deep breath right as the sun sets and you'll listen to stories about drinking fresh chicken blood in Vietnam and growing up in Costa Rica, getting attacked by a drunk Italian in Rome and housesitting a mansion in Tuscany, owning a coffee shop in Summerland and befriending the creators of The Not-So-Secret-Anymore-Now-Is-It?
I can do all this in 5-inch heels, which gives Santa Barbara the clear advantage over Big Sur.
And Esp knows, I love a good moonlit hike, but only when it's just the moon and I.
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