Sunday, March 30, 2008

snapshot laguna

Some days you just need to get away. One of the things I love about living in southern California is the fact that a head full of salt air, an eyeful of color and a heart overflowing with poetry (very bad poetry to be sure, but poetry nevertheless) are only about a 20 minute ride away in pretty much any direction. Far and away my favorite play day-runaway destination is Laguna Beach, an enchanted isle of a place so cool it once had it's very own TV show.

Unfortunately for Laguna, the show was populated by some stunningly uncool airheads so tedious in their narcissism, so
crashingly dull in their entitled stupidity that no one could stand their company for more than 10 minutes at a time, with commercials. The series was mercifully cancelled and, I believe, all the offending parties properly euthanized. The city, it seems was not ready for it's closeup.

But it has always gloried in the long shot, it's sun-drenched beauty a heady magnet for artists and dreamers for the past hundred or so years. On Thursday, Turk and I headed for the coast with some grand ideas about playing a round of golf at Aliso Creek, one of the loveliest little executive (read short and easy) courses I've ever seen. The first time I ever played there, I looked up into the early morning mist and beheld a deer poised high on a hill, staring off into the distance, watching my ball. It was positively magical, although I did lose that ball.

Our hopes of repeating the experience were dashed in the pro shop, where we were told there would be no tee times available until after 5:00 pm. We retired to the bar for a bite and a beer on the odd chance something would open up. It didn't. Disappointed, we were forced to head for the beach.

Everywhere we looked were photographers and models. A family of six hammed it up for a laughing shooter on the beach, capturing a day well-spent basking in the sun. Not far away a stunning brunette posed languidly in a red bikini at surf's edge, reclining for her cameraman in the last thin line of liquid orange light. Further down the beach a golden couple, lean and tanned and dressed in matching white, romped down the beach, spontaneously jumping into a playful piggyback ride. Take after take after take.

"Wedding photos," I informed Turk, who smiled, ever the romantic.

"That'll be nice," he said.

The romantic in me sighed, a sad but sweet little sigh, thinking they'll cherish those pictures forever.

The cynic in me chided, they'll cost more than their first mortgage and will be burned in the divorce.

They duked it out for a moment, the Romantic and the Cynic, against the glory of the setting sun. Given the circumstances the Romantic inevitably won, but then the contest had clearly been rigged. I took a picture.

A little guy who, up until that moment had been lost in the wonder of a yellow butterfly kite, came running over shouting, "Cheeeese! CHEEEEESE!"

"Alex, she's not taking your picture!" his mother admonished.

But I'm flexible. "I think I have to now, since he's being so obliging," I laughed.

"Cheese!" smiled Alex.

Alex is ready for his close-up.

Friday, March 21, 2008

call me Ishma...oh, never mind

I don't know why I haven't felt like writing lately, except to say that I haven't been doing much creatively at all. Things have been busy, it's true, but not all that busy. I could have dropped a note, a letter, a phone call; some tiny proof of life. A whisper, a shout, a sigh. But each time I even thought about writing something, whatever vague, uninspired little notions floating around my head fizzled, fell flat and fluttered away. I seem to be the victim of a serious malaise, and until I work my way through it I've simply run out of things to say.

It isn't as though I've been sitting moping around the house. Just a couple of weeks ago, Robbie and I spent a bright, blustery day out on the sea, searching for whales on the third round of what has become an annual event. Our sail was accompanied by the non-stop narration of an adorable little towhead whose name escapes me now but whom I have come to think of as Charlie, as no other name could suit him so well; a blond, blue-eyed all-American toddler of a boy if ever there was one. Charlie perched next to me and sat, tiny legs stretched straight out in front of him, earnestly calling out sightings at every opportunity.

"Get outta the way, Mommy! Mommy, get outta the WAY!" he cried once, as his mother blocked his view of the vast, empty waters.

Her eyes widened. "We say excuse me," she admonished. "We do NOT say get outta the way."

"Excuse me, Mommy." he replied. She smiled and moved away.

"Those are just rocks," his father told him.

"I'm sorry. I thought they were whales," Charlie said sincerely. Well, they looked like whales to me too. I gave Charlie a broad grin and a wink. I loved Charlie.

Charlie's pint-sized traveling companion was every bit as cute as he was, a dainty brunette with elfin eyes who never stopped smiling out from under her red knit hat even as the winds grew cold and the day long. The captain came on the loudspeaker to inform us that we were in pursuit of a giant blue whale spotted on an earlier cruise just a few miles away. We've been down this road before. Robbie laughed.

"That's what they all say," she said. "It's just like those ghosts on the Queen Mary; oh, man, you should have been here on the last tour..."

In the end, we didn't see any whales, which was OK with us. As always, the captain lingered around the buoy-cum-flophouse of the local seal slackers, who regarded us with their usual disdain. For all I know, they're the same group that have been ignoring us for the past three years running. It's good to know the locals. As we disembarked, we collected our ticket for another free sail and counted ourselves lucky. Watching as Charlie and Little Red Whaling Hat headed off into the chill, content in the warmth of their mothers' arms, we put up our collars and headed off in search of a little warmth of our own. The balcony of a nearby tavern beckoned with promises of hot toddies and sunsets. Happy hunting.