My fingernails are filthy,
I’ve got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean white linens,
And my fancy French cologne…
(“Carey” by Joni Mitchell)
Up until this weekend, my only experience with beach tar was hearing Joni Mitchell sing about it. Turns out it bubbles up from under the beach, looks a lot like black sand, and will stain the hell out of your feet if you walk on it. Now I know.
I drove down to Santa Barbara to visit an old friend; the solo road trip to Southern California reminded me of being newly on my own, leaving Berkeley after class on Friday and spending just under forty-eight hours with my friends in LA before it was time to get home before Monday’s 8:00AM lab. Lately my life is a big ball of memory spiked with deja vu.
Saturday I had a few hours to myself at the beach while he worked. There’s nothing quite like the ocean to make you feel small and at peace.
I wandered around for a while, wading through the shallows and peoplewatching. It’s funny how similarly different people react to the beach. Everyone smiles. Everyone splashes. Everyone settles down, relaxes in their own way; even the shrieking children. (and their parents) Sun/salt/sand alchemy.
I think this used to be part of a starfish:
There’s a fantastic tree in the cemetery at Mission Santa Barbara. It looks like a magnolia, but the sign says it’s a fig. It bears no fruit. The trunk has grown in such a way that it looks like two trees; one reaching out in lamentation or exultation while the other holds it up. It stands watch over the living as they visit the dead.
I bought a new St. Christopher medallion; patron saint of travelers. My grandmother gave one to me just before I went on my first big trip by myself, and I’ve been buying (and losing) them ever since. He was de-canonized a while back, but so long as the church sells medallions, I will buy them. It’s tradition.
And then we had the best tacos ever.