Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back Roads Baby

This morning I drove from Santa Barbara to Montecito via the back roads. For those of you who don’t know, this route is one of the most beautiful drives in the world, especially in the morning. The sun is rising in the East over an exclusive range of mountains, one of only a hand full of ranges that stretch both north and south and east and west. When it gets over the peak, the sun stretches its golden arms out across fertile farm valleys, sleepy beachside towns, and the blue Pacific Ocean, hugging California with morning light. Ahh, it’s good to be back.

This got me thinking, as one easily does meandering their auto coach through eucalyptus lined lanes, about back roads, route 66 probably the most famous, a novel I started reading in junior high but never finished called Blue Highways, and my Dad who always had a time saving route that never saved much time but offered better view. I caught onto his tactics at an early age. I love back roads. I love going slow. I love the view. I love less traffic—which is why I’m not going to name any of my Santa Barbara roads.

When I was 12 and my parents were going through their divorce my Dad would drive us to school on his days. Every now and then he would drive right past our school and head south. We would take PCH or Highway 1. We’d drive along the ocean. These trips always coincided with a big ocean swell. The waves would splash up over the rocks and on to the road. My Dad would talk story and point out famous surf spots like County Line and Malibu. We’d always stop at the Malibu Inn for a cheeseburger. Now that I’m out of school, my Dad uses airport drop off and picks as an excuse for some back road rambling. The traffic has gotten worse, the surf breaks are more crowded but the stories haven’t changed and sometimes, if your lucky a bit of the Pacific will splash your windshield.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

March 4, 1990

(This post is long overdue but I started writing it before the internet was invented so cut me some slack.)

A nine year old girl goes into a packed bookstore. Her 29 year old self stumbles upon the book her mom bought her that day, Zen in the Art of Writing, and appreciates the irony that Ray Bradbury, author of the Martian Chronicles, spoke in the Earthling Bookstore. That nine year old girl didn’t even know what irony meant but she felt it, like an inside joke between her and the universe. It tickled her bones, made the hair on her arms stand up, and put a smile on her face.

This 29 year old has been thinking a lot about that 9 year old lately—in some ways she let her down but it’s not too late, and the day that her mom took her to hear Ray Bradbury speak. She didn’t know who he was then, but reading the book he signed for her 20 years ago she can tell his words sunk in, especially in the way he describes how images sink into his subconscious and resurface in the most mysterious of ways years later. The memory of that day, 20 years ago is seeping out of my imagination right now. Granted I got a little prodding from fate when I found the book on my mom’s shelf.

Holding a piece of that day in my hands, the memories started popping up randomly like shinny pennies laying with Lincoln’s bust up in the street. Sitting on the floor in the old Earthling, next to stacks of books and the smell of them wrapped around me like a blanket, a baby blanket—like one you could buy at Chicken Little, the family run local baby store in the space that used to be the Earthling. A blanket that is still wrapped around me now, a blanket of memories and words as I sit at my computer working on my baby of a story.