Lengthy, Mundane Whining Turns into Restoration

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I was feeling ambivalent about going to the trade show Monday in L.A., even though I had asked for the day off of work to do so. I very much wanted to experience this year’s offerings of Champagne from the excellent portfolio of Terry Theise, but the idea of wrestling with the traffic by myself (read: without the benefit of the carpool lane for the drive back) made me incredibly lazy. The Saturday Night Live skit “The Californians” is so right on.  It is sad, but our whole lives in Southern California revolve around various travel routes and the time of day in order to avoid inevitable traffic.

So on the day of the tasting, I arose from bed earlier than I normally do.  When I know I am going to be sampling a lot of alcoholic beverages, I like to drink at least two pints of water a couple of hours before. Hydrating my body makes a dramatic difference in my tolerance levels even though I am spitting.  It takes me about an hour and twenty to get up to Hollywood provided there are not any snags on the 405. I was terrified to drink anything, lest I have to make a pit-stop on the way adding another 15 minutes onto my trip—or even worse, being stuck in a traffic jam needing to pee. Not allowing myself to drink any water made me cranky. I packed a liter bottle of water in my purse to try to placate my grumpiness.  I planned on downing  it as soon as I passed LAX.

I did my hair and make-up without rushing, putting off deciding on what to wear since my wine cellar is currently in boxes stacked in my closet. I knew my wardrobe would be limited to whatever would be comfortable enough to drive in for 3 + hours and was not hidden behind cases of wine. Not the most ideal for a tasting, I decided on a loose silk blouse with droopy sleeves—at least it would be comfortable.  Eh.  The blouse needed to be ironed. Still sleepy, I flopped on my bed as the iron heated up. My arm resting across my forehead, I whined for a few minutes to myself, “But I don’t want to drive to L.A.”  Finally, I reluctantly roused myself to tend to the ironing.

By this time, I acknowledged that I was procrastinating. I had already taken the time to trim my cuticles and file my fingernails. I touched up the polish on my toes. Looking at the clock, I realized that the tasting was beginning in 15 minutes; I HAD to get out the door. I am driving to the freeway, and my flojera overtakes me. But, hey, my car is really dirty, so I decide to drive through a quick carwash. I am getting the car toweled off when I start receiving text messages from friends also going to the tasting. Sigh. I forgot about having to play kissy face with those I haven’t seen in a while. Getting really hungry, I stop for an organic juice to drink whenever I start getting close to Hollywood.

And then, finally, I am on the 5 and on my way! I’m jamming to some tunes, and traffic isn’t bad. (But you are going to be so dehydrated when you get up there). I glance at the clock. Holy moly!!! How did it get to be so late? I’ve been on the freeway for 25 minutes now. It is 10 minutes to 1:00pm. (You are going to arrive right around 2:00). Yeah, well the tasting goes until 3:00. (You will not have eaten, and the Champagne is going to go straight to your head even if you are spitting). Hm. (You are only going to have about a half hour to seriously taste by the time you get done saying “hi” to everyone). Yeah, that is about right. (All the good stuff is already gone). No, that’s not entirely true. Terry’s portfolio is full of gems. Besides, I told Pavers I’d be there. I had RSVP’d. (Since when do you do stuff that you don’t want to do in order to conform to society’s dictates? Life is too precious to spend time on things that don’t ultimately make you happy. Wouldn’t you rather go to the beach on your day off? No chores, laundry, telephone calls—just you relaxing on a sunny beach instead of driving while frustrated, hungry, and thirsty?) Yes, all very good points. I really have been fighting going to the tasting since I got up this morning.

I lower my velocity and get into the right lane to take the first exit off the freeway. I find a parking lot nearby, and I text Paver’s and my boss letting them know I won’t be making the tasting.

Then I pour myself a big glass of water and high-tail it home. As I am getting on the entrance ramp to go back the way I came, I am suddenly energized with elation. Why didn’t I call this off sooner? Upon arriving home, I immediately change into my swimsuit. I then rinse a pint of organic strawberries in the sink. They are so sweet when I sneak one out of the colander, I end up standing there and eating them all, too impatient to sit down, too enraptured by their fragrant deliciousness to notice or care.

I grab my keys, more water, and head out again. In a few minutes I am at the beach. I can’t believe how empty the parking lot is! When I get down to the sand, I realize why. This beach is typically a favorite spot of surfers and skimmers, but today, the waves are gently lapping at the shore as if they, too, gave up on traveling this day anywhere with purpose. All the usual roaring power of the ocean had been merely switched off or unplugged. It was if, instead of facing the vast blue strength of the Pacific, I were in a tiny protected cove where the water resembles the waves one finds in a teacup set down only slightly too abruptly. I had the whole beach to myself!!! I spread my blanket 20 feet from the shore break. I untied the straps around my neck, tucking them into the cups of my suit so that I wouldn’t get strap marks, and absorbed the soft glow of autumn in California.

After I felt both my skin and my frame of mind sufficiently become supple with warmth, I tied my suit and walked out into the water. Dancing ribbons of yellow, green, and brown wrapped themselves around my ankles and thighs. Ropes of vegetal golden pearls the size of radishes encircled my wrists. A surge of azure foam presented a mermaid’s cat-o-nine-tails to me. I playfully whipped at the tide causing a multitude of released water droplets to dazzle in the afternoon sun. A tiny little crab runs up the stem I am using as a handle and onto my arm in terror. Something about the light quality changed, and I came to be in that state of mind where the sand looks liquid and the water solid molten metal. The sky and the sea meld and then separate, the water frothing and foaming, becoming so light that it escapes the heavy azure of the atmosphere pressing down. A gentle curl, and then glistening, like the sea has been pavéd, mistaken for a So Cal teenaged girl’s cell phone case.

After playing in the ocean for an hour, I pick out a bouquet from the variety of seaweed that has entwined my limbs. Gathering the dripping fronds, I head back to my blanket to dry off a bit, the seaweed taking up a full quarter of the large expanse of cloth.

Wrapping the vegetation in my quilt, I head toward the path which leads back to the parking lot. A good-sized white crane is standing majestically on the path. I hesitantly near it, as I don’t want to scare it. It waits until I am about 6 feet away. The streamlined bird turns, and he and I make our way up the path toward the parking lot.  Walking in time with one another, the 4 foot bird—intensely white, slender, and elegant—is doing a slow high-step a few yards ahead. Deciding he has reached the boundary of his territory after about 20 yards, he steps off the path into the scrub of ice plant. His head follows me as I pass.

It is about 4:00pm, and I am beginning to get really hungry again. It looks like it might be a nice sunset with the bit of cloud cover. Going to Coyote Grill  to watch the sunset at 6:30 with a margarita and some stick-to-my-ribs Mexican food sounds perfect. I telephone Motocrash to see what he is up to. It sounds like he already has his own plans for drink and won’t be able to accompany me in time for sunset. I get home, take off my wet bathing suit bottoms underneath my long skirt, decide that I am really too hungry to wait until 6 to go and eat, so without another thought, I grab some cash and one of the books I am currently reading. Texting my friend that my tummy is growling and I can’t wait, I head back out the door.

Sipping on my second margarita with a red-snapper ceviche resting happily in my belly, I pick at the carnitas which have just arrived with my nose in my book. An exuberant “NINI!!!” comes sailing across the dining room with my friend in tow. I honestly didn’t think I would see this dear one tonight! Once Motocrash has a drink in hand, he regales me with his wonderful stories of his hijinks and near-death experiences. We stop to take photos of the sunset. Three margaritas and a beer in, we decide it is time to let the evening get underway with whatever it may bring.

Arriving home, I check the mailbox to find that a DVD I ordered has arrived marking that the rest of the evening will be spent taking a long warm bath and then curling up in bed to watch the film. I take the seaweed I collected out to my patio and rinse it well with a garden hose before plunking the large vegetal mass in the tub. The water quickly turns brown from all the goodies being released from the plants. The fronds look so pretty unfurling and waving to me in my bathtub, I take a few photos.

Steeping in my brown kelp tea, I meditate on the beauty of the sea, on friendship, on restorative time spent alone, and the benefits of slacking.