“Brown-golden bands, sand all in the sheets…” Little Big Town

Lock Little Big Town away with Edward Scissorhands and the second album from Brand New as “Things that I love but hurt my heart more than I can bear”.

I got quite a bit accomplished today. Trimmed my bangs which are always an all-day adventure that starts with “oops, missed another spot” ends with “for crissakes STOP while you still have HAIR!”

I’m also reading an exceptionally well-written account of Churchill and Orwell by Thomas E. Ricks. It may be the first book in years to hold my attention enough to finish. Purchased because I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Churchill although the more I read, the less I like Mr. “Orwell”. Although it is interesting to note that everyone who met Hitler was convinced he was sane, trustworthy, and genuinely a force for peace. Conversely, Churchill was regarded as “unbalanced”, a hot-head, full of uncensored, unsolicited and unwelcome diatribes, he was hated and derided by every political party including his own.

I also began planning for my next trip. I said I would return to California this year. Mid-to-late September, this time to Northern California to visit my sister (and NOT the Flake. Not, not, not, not…). I’ll couch surf in Sacramento with her and spend several days hiking Yosemite. I’ll take Mist Trail as far as Nevada Falls but I don’t think I care enough about getting to the top of Half Dome to attempt it although if my Army buddy “S” ends up joining me, he’ll insist on it. Three days of hard hiking is probably all my body can handle so I’ll take a break in Napa Valley and lounge all day at the Sattui winery with my sister.  At some point I’ll have to get homework done (boo hiss!) but I do not want this trip to be like my recent trip to NYC where I spent most of my time in a motel room in Jersey working on school assignments. I’m not expecting to do particularly well in this next class so I may just say “fck it” that week for grades. The last few days, I want to spend on the sand. Preferably nude. And with access to a hot-tub and more wine, recovering from the beating I’ll take in Yosemite (and trying hard not to contact the Flake who lives very close now to where I’ll be visiting).

I asked him a few months ago, when he reached out, if he only ever wanted to talk to me when he was bored or lonely (or horny) and he replied “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you”. So why isn’t he talking to me everyday? Now that I’ve agreed to reconnect. My imagination spins, wondering who else is occupying his time and receives the same “special selfies” he sends me… When he’s blocked and can’t reach me by phone, the pressure is off. So I do this to myself.

Love is a fraud ~ Belle & Sebastian

My dog listened to me sing for 10 hours in the car ride up into the hills of the tri-state area (NC/TN/GA).  If his farts are like contractions, how far apart must they be before I pull over?

On the way up, I took a detour through Athens to avoid Atlanta altogether. I not only didn’t feel like dealing with the traffic but something about passing what used to be the Flake’s exit hurt my heart.
I reached the base of the Smokies around 7:30pm. From there, the temperature dropped quickly and the scenery improved. It might have triggered my first sincere smile of the day. At this rate, I reached my mother’s property just before 10 pm. My only prayer was that she had toilet paper and a coffee pot, which she did, but in hindsight, I should have prayed for a working shower too.

It was like camping with a roof over my head. I bullied opened the sticky windows that would budge and cleaned up the rodent, bug and bat carcasses. While washing in the kitchen sink, dead bats floated up from the garbage disposal and by then, without gloves, I couldn’t bring myself to stick my hand down there and fish out the rest. The next day, I drove to the nearest town 40 miles away and rented an electric floor sander, found a wifi signal and ordered electronic plug in rodent repellants from Amazon. One of my Army buddies who said he would drive up to help me didn’t show but luckily the old woman living in the property adjacent put me in touch with a local handyman who would repair the shower (not til after I left) and helped me lug the 150lb sander up the narrow staircase. I was proud enough that I got it out of the car and into the house by myself but making up it up the stairs without throwing out my back or falling down the stairs was too risky. When did I become so weak? I bathed in the rain, in creeks, and in the (clothes) washing machine (when I was caked with sawdust from sanding and sweating so a baby wipe just wouldn’t suffice). I spent two full days working on the floors and a few odd repair jobs around the property then dedicated the rest of the time to hiking.

Raven Cliff falls was my favorite. Five miles round trip, a gradual incline and path that hugged the water all the way. My dog LOVES creeks. I discovered this when I went to visit the Flake in Atlanta last year. He literally bounces with joy, plunging his face and body into the cold water. He can’t do this at home because unless it’s on the ocean or gulf (which he can’t drink), there are ‘gators.

The next day, my dog was moving as stiff as I was so I opted for a much shorter trek closer to “home” at Fires Creek (although armed with two walking sticks, I insisted on keeping us in the water, navigating over slippery rocks which proved to be challenging and hardly qualified as “taking it easy”).

The next day was supposed to be the big hike: Finally, after nearly a year of cancellations, I was going to do the Full moon hike over the suspension bridge at Tallullah Gorge, leaving my dog behind of course but wearing him out on trails during the day to include Minnihaha. But we woke to the sound of rain and a message from the state park calling off the hike on account of it. The extended forecast called for rain the rest of the week so there was no “waiting it out”. In this environment, I could not re-wear the same clothes day after day and I had only packed enough underwear and medication for 9 days.

I also woke to an email from the Flake. How does he know just when to reach out and just what to say to bring me back on the line? He apologized for not being a friend to me. Said Atlanta was a transition period and he was at peace in California. Thanked me for being there for him at his darkest, ugliest. Said he was again the man I met and fell in love with at the Pelican pub 7 years ago. He wasn’t asking for anything but to talk to me. He missed me so much. I caved. Replied that I was in the hills without a steady signal and couldn’t call. But the door was open again.

As I weighed my options and decided ultimately there was nothing to do but start to head back towards home, he suggested Amicalola Falls. I’d been there before but not on a trail because my family couldn’t hike. It was on the way so I decided to stop and gauge the weather once I got there. The nice thing about hiking in wet weather is the trails are abandoned. Amicalola is labeled “difficult for dogs” but another pooch-traveling hiker hinted that the East Ridge trail was suitable. And it was. A bit rocky at the top so I released my dog from his leash so that he and I could both pick the path most appropriate for us. Besides, he’s responsive to voice command and has attachment issues so he never got more than 20 feet ahead of me before stopping and waiting for me to catch up. And he’s smart. He would creep towards the edge and look out but never got too close and was never tempted to follow a small animal to his doom. Amicalola was just over 2 miles round trip and a much steeper incline than Raven Cliff. The sky cracked open when we reached the top so we ducked back into woods, taking the west trail down, protected from the worst of the deluge by the woodland canopy. Unfortunately, I had no clean, dry clothes or towels left to change into when we got back to the car so it was a wet, chilly drive for 6 hours to a dog friendly motel on the FL/GA border where we stopped for the night.

On the way, I chatted with the Flake. He invited me to come see him. I mentioned plans to go back to Cali later this year but the highway through Big Sur was still closed and Esalen was too expensive. He said he would take me hiking through the Redwoods and we would drink wine in the hot tub overlooking the Ocean where he lives on in apartments on a cliff. Of course we would also hit the nearby nude beach. Things were and still are sexually explicit between us. I mentioned I had told my sister I would visit her sometime during her next contract job in Sacramento from Sept-December but she stays at places through AirBnB so I would have to do the same. Or stay with him. I considered the state-run lighthouse hostels and calling my Army buddy from WA state down to hike (he already said he would come and of everyone who says they will make it, he’s the one who keeps his word). So I can go back to California and not see the Flake. I should NOT see the Flake. I know I can’t handle it. I know we would have a great time and then I would crash on the plane home, emotionally. I would be left empty, just like last year, struggling for months to recover from a few days of happiness with a man that loves me but isn’t IN LOVE with me. And I’ll tell him this, in a few weeks when I book my next trip that does not include seeing him.

“Every me and every you” – Placebo

Montana was a bust. I spent my birthday and the following week trapped on a porch, breathing in smoke from the burning mountains and counting down the days and hours until my flight home.
I went to visit a recently retired Army friend-turned-frazzled mom. Her daughter adored me but the son was unfriendly and fussy. My friend was too exhausted and unmotivated to hike although she had the gear and her kids were perfectly content to ride on our backs. In 7 days, I may have spent a total of 2 hours on foot in the terrain. I was stir crazy, unaccustomed to being sedentary. I cleaned house (which made her mother uncomfortable, I learned), walked the short stretch of road to and from the local grocery store and lunged around the yard when no one was around. We did make it to a bar one evening and bored local cops stalked us as we walked home sober. Ive never been stalked by cops before. What option do bar-goers have in a town too small for cabs and Uber?
Although it was nice to discuss music again (I failed to agree that Ben Gibbard of Death Cab ripped off the sound of Placebo from the Cruel Intentions soundtrack). And it was endearing to meet a family with roots. Sisters, uncles, countless cousins…they were bickering, loving land barons with thick paper deeds dating back to the mid 1800’s. My friend has history. She can trace her lineage even without the help of the Mormons. I know nothing and can learn nothing beyond my Ashkanazi gypsy horse thief great grandfather.

But back to my friend. In her desperation for children, she compromised on love. Perhaps forfeited is a more appropriate word. A willful, independent, forceful personality saddled but not tamed by parenthood. She seethed resentment though dare not voice it because it’s hard to complain to a lonely, childless woman. My mother said “It will get easier in a few years when they get into school and she has a few hours to herself again”. But watching her struggle and I, bored to actual tears, wondered if this was a lesson for me, G-d reminding me to be careful what I wish for. What is worse? Living, sleeping, and dying alone or being trapped in an unhappy marriage and mommyhood?

It’s okay if Harry and Sally never hook up

That’s what I’m thinking about, last nights conversation with my Asshole Best Friend (ABF). As I’m pre-flight cracking: folding myself in half to release my back, then shoulders, then lift my legs like dog-meets-tree and the sounds of my hips popping is loud enough that the man beside me in the line to board the plane remarks on it. It will be long day of flights to reach Montana. I’m visiting a friend there for my bday. Because you know I always grow desperate around my bday and need to get the hell out of town. Scotland last year, Alaska year before (and looking back, you recall how those went). Montana is a foreign land to me and I wanna make those mountains my bitch but these days, my appetite for adventure is bigger than my physical capability. Also my friend has 18mos old twins and is in full-time mommy mode. I told her we could split them up, pack them in papooses and ruck them up the mountain with us. Not sure if she’s down but she used to be fearless. Freshly retired from the Army, I’m dying her hair pink. We’ve been obsessing over Guy Tang colors and I’m going to follow one of his recipes for a 5 part harmony of rose gold and pink. My mother will be next with varying shades of silver and dusty violet metallic.

But I digress. The Flake called again and it went straight to  VM because he is still blocked. He just wanted to apologize.  And I’m thankful for the apology. It eases my resentment.

But my asshole best friend. We may only talk on the phone once or twice  a year but that’s partly becsuse I hate talking on the phone and he traps me for hours. Last night, it was 4.5 until my phone died. By then he was drunk, rambling and repeating himself. Telling me he attempted suicide again on his birthday and, unsurprised and a bit less sympathetic than I had intended, I advised him to take a tip from me: take birthday weeks off, run far far away and go check something off the bucket list. He also lost his recent radio gig in a blaze of dramatic glory. Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did. On the upside, He started writing short screenplays again. One is nearly finished and he bounced a few other ideas off me. One is based on us. A key scene being a memory that he holds dear (and I was too drunk to recall): at a concert, he says something to upset me, of course, I lash back and he apologizes. I sit next to him and lay my head in his lap (I do not remember any of this, by the way. I can’t even recall what concert we were at). He’s stroking my hair, thinking about how much he loves me and wonders if he should kiss me. But he doesn’t and instead, puts me in a cab and sends me home, like I requested.  And that’s the scene that haunts him, he should have kissed me, he insists. I’m on the other end of the conversation, shaking my head amd flapping my arms like my brother in an autistic fit thinking “Nononono!!!” But my voice is calm as I say “Well, thank you for not taking advantage of me when I was drunk. If you had, we may not still be friends”, he replies “Of course we would. And we’d be married with kids” I cringe and flap again, “You know,” I try to joke, “its okay if Harry and Sally never hook up” but he isn’t listening. He’s again describing this kiss that could have altered the course of our futures, that will be the alternate reality played out on video. And  I hear my mother’s voice “See? I told you men and women can’t be friends”

“You know the sun is gonna shine in my back door some day” Aretha Franklin

Went to a West Coast meets country dance. Country in one room, West Coast swing in the other. Truly, I went for the country room to brush up on my 2 Step which is horrendous. Don’t use it for 20 years, you definitely lose it. Well, at least I did. The leads had to “insist” rather than “suggest”. By 11:30pm all that was left were the Regional West Coast Pros. I guess everyone else didn’t feel like dancing around them so they left. I hung around a little longer watching but frankly, I was not feeling the music or the dancing. It was like spoonful after spoonful of icing with little cake. All styling and tricks and no Foundation.

My friend “S”, the one I have Frank conversations with on a near-daily basis. I met him in the Army. He’s one of the reasons why I say joining the Army was not a mistake no matter how much I joke about it. When he was telling me about his latest would-be romantic encounter and the reason he’s going to die alone, I reminded him that we should at the very least, make sure we end up in the same nursing home together. Provided we both live to a ripe old age which as a matter aside I never intended on. But just in case I do we should be roommates. “I’m a quiet masturbator. Hell, I’ll even let you have the top bunk” (John Lyshitski). Let’s Go to Prison, one of the best, underrated comedies since John Candy took funny to the grave with him. Although between Deadpool and Just Friends, I have found renewed comedic hope in Ryan Reynolds.
I finished a law assignment in the 11th hour and felt pretty good about it. This instructor (retired military JAG and current federal judge) is engaged and I respect him, which motivates me to make an effort to give him something worth reading (looking at, listening to). I want to give as good as I get. I’m celebrating with homemade pizza with a cauliflower crust (in hind-taste, I do NOT recommend it), some wine (okay, a vat of wine), Rain, Candlelight, and Aretha Franklin. I was feeling so good (and a little tipsy) that I flipped my phone the bird rather than answer it when my The Flake called.

I’m going to paraphrase something I saw on a church billboard that struck me. No, not that “worry is a mild form of atheism” although that has lingered in my brain for years. This one is less profound but still struck me: Either you are in a storm, coming out of a storm or heading into a storm. The point is, there is always a storm…

“I wasn’t even in the running” ~ Haim

I feel like I’m always operating in the red, physically and mentally at a deficit.
There were two Gregs. The under 30 homeless-by-choice biking gypsy yogi without a fuck in the world and the other one who pretended not to recognize me. Oh, you know what you did, motherfucker. Ten years ago, this “friend” tried to steal my civilian radio job while I was in Iraq and got fired for it. The one time the company did right by me and we haven’t spoken a word since. Although all he did was jump across the street to the competitor where he still works today so maybe Karma is waiting to kick his ass in his next life. But he spent half an hour pretending not to notice me sitting 10 feet away at my favorite local coffee where I go for a change of scenery while working on school assignments. I forced a smile while homeless Greg happily rubbed my dog’s belly but kept thinking, this is just one of the reasons I need to move: I’ve been here too long if I’m bumping into assholes from my past. Time to go meet new assholes, make new enemies somewhere else.

But it looks like The Flake will make it to the West Coast before I do. He flies this week for the final round of interviews and contract negotiations for a job out near Monterey. He’s texting me links to the luxury apartments near the national forest where he is planning to live. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the red line that is Highway 1 in Google Maps after much of the coastline slid into the Pacific in the last few weeks. Road closure until at least late August. I might not make it into Big Sur at all this year as planned. But that asshole is moving there.  In all my self-righteous glory, I utter encouragement and congratulations to him while making my apologies to G_d for secretly being bitter and green. What is the line between sharing and gloating? Is it the intent? Because it feels like he’s gloating.

Or maybe this is another example of how I’ve lost my perspective. Because I live in Paradise too, 10 minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. I need only open my front door to the smell of saltwater and the sound Of seagulls. It’s a source of peace and he is an unwitting thief. I give him the benefit of the doubt with “unwitting”. But if he is unwitting then that makes me solely responsible for my discontent. No, he can’t be that stupid. I’ve told him we can’t be friends, that my feelings haven’t changed. He knows he’s still using me. And I let him.

“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”, he once told me. I recall hateful things he’s said to me in the past because ripping that wound back open motivates me to rebuild The Wall. Not the healthiest coping mechanism and certainly not very forgiving but it’s a line of defense that works.

But I danced and sang a bit this weekend. Even if I was just faking it for the crowd, the point is, I did it. And that’s progress.

“I can cope any way I choose and I have not cried in three whole days” ~ Violents

Hey how’s this for a pickup line? My doctor gave me a new brand of birth control pill. Want to come over and test its effectiveness?

I’m back with my vibrator. I’ve been blowing off the booty call following Bill’s death so his hints at needing a backrub or “to do laundry” are getting fewer and further between. Not that I wanted to make a habit of it. And it was a 3 on a scale to 10 ( but I give him an extra point for being a good kisser). 

I volunteered to be a lab rat. It’s what you do when you’re desperate. The VA is conducting studies on transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression. It feels like a giant woodpecker furiously attacking my skull for 37 and a half minutes. Not painful, just odd. I first learned about it from my family and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t deliberately try to kill me. I volunteered late last year when the Wellbutrin made me suicidal. I feel better without pills. Sometimes I even feel normal but normal is not the same as good and Good is relative. Still, I was surprised to be accepted as a “rat” following thorough evaluation. I was added to the waiting list and so I waited. More than three months went by and I heard nothing. I even called once to make sure I was still on the list but after the new year, shaking off the Flake, brief but enjoyable travel and being a dance dance dancing machine, feeling, dare I say “good”… Bill died and a week later I got a call asking if I was ready to start treatment for 4-6 weeks. I explained to the doctor that I was concerned my results would be skewed. After all I just lost someone very dear to me and who wouldn’t be depressed? Naturally, gradually, I should feel “better” in 4-6 weeks anyway, right? I said “Before Bill died, I wasn’t depressed. I was perfectly normal”. The moment I said it, I knew it wasn’t true and the doctor was quick to point out “I screened you before your friend passed and you were not ‘ perfectly normal’, as you put it. But I take your present circumstances into account in the study results”.

I forced myself to go to a pool party Saturday, and be thankful that I got an invitation at all. It started out ok but after a few hours drinking, I looked around and found myself the odd man out again, the 7th wheel as people paired off and it became clear who the couples were (or at least the special friends). That’s when I left and got lonely enough that I text the booty call. Not to invite him over, which he fished for, but just to vent. I told him about the pool party and about being unhappy with the arrangement at home. I told him all about how my roommate asked if his girlfriend was welcome to stay the night. I said yes and a week later he had.a house key made for her without asking me and she’s lived here every day and night for the last 2 months. Individually they may be the best roommates I could hope for but my resentment is growing. Ive been taken advantage of, the water bill has doubled, but the worst part is I am living with a married couple in their honeymoon period: they cook together, dance around the kitchen, kiss, eat on the patio, fuck constantly and forget to shut the door… and it’s in my face! I begrudgingly accept my chronic single fate of the last 13 years but Im often lonely and I HATE being a spectator to a couple playing house in MY house. HATE IT! Surprisingly the booty call gave me advice that I would have expected from Bill if he were still alive “It doesn’t matter your reasons for being uncomfortable. All that matters is you are uncomfortable.”

May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on. ~ Fun

A friend posted on social media today that it was painful to live in a world that no longer needed her. I responded, “What about your needs?” But martyrdom is a hard habit to break. I’m still working on it. And I may not be a Buddhist like my recently passed friend Bill but even the mindfulness therapy championed by Dr. Hayes is based in eastern thought. Modern Buddhist practitioners are a source of inspiration and stability. One ACT/Buddhist theory that Bill shared with me before he passed was that the reason people are so unhappy is because we cling to what we want: not just material things but circumstances and relationships. Rather than accepting that everything changes and comes to an end, we mourn for its passing rather than celebrating that we had it at all, rather than giving thanks and moving on. Well, Bill, I’m sorry but I miss you. And he would say “Stop saying sorry. Say ‘oops’.”

Bill’s best friend got back to me with details for the memorial service and confirmed my gut suspicion, that he took his own life. It’s hard to fathom this world getting “the best” of someone so enlightened and loved. It shakes what little faith I have left. Local swing dancers are hosting a “Dance like Bill” contest Friday night. They made it a “strictly” instead of a “jack and jill”. Not to insult your dance intelligence but in a competition, “strictly” means you have a designated partner. For “jack and Jill”, partners are chosen at random. I posted on the event page asking them to change it to a J&J since Bill WAS my partner and I don’t have anyone else to dance with for that competition or any other. Although the idea of showing up to an event with those Scenesters that never gave me the time of day as a dancer to begin with, and watching them all try to imitate my partner, especially when Bill and I would have been dancing together in Vegas this week…I’d better not go. I’ll just get angry. 

Time for my biannual four hour round trip to the VA hospital in Orlando. The flagship of VA hospitals. Clean and efficient; where lab techs are all sharp-shooting former combat medics and never have to fish for my veins; and where I don’t have to fight the toilet paper roll in the bathrooms. But fatigue is still a bastard and driving back I nearly fell asleep at the wheel again. Maybe it was the sun through the sunroof pressing down on my shoulders while my memory fantasized about them being pressed into a pillow. I’d like a pair of hands on me but the fact is I don’t have 7 hours to spare for a booty call. A friend pointed out that when your booty call hangs out for that long, that counts as a relationship. But the B.C. doesn’t love animals and that’s a deal-breaker. Although I want to point out that ruling out psychopathy strictly based on someone’s affection for animals is faulty. The Sociopath rescued a cat. Still, I can’t seriously consider someone who pushes my dog way when he comes looking for a pat.

Speaking of the B.C., he has been wanting to come over. First he said he needed to do laundry. A few days later, he said he needed a back rub. But I’ve been struggling with Bill’s passing and I don’t need a friendly poke, I need a friendly ear. So instead I sit outside alone on my back patio holding a water hose stiffer than the B.C., burning brush under the light of a full moon. Leaving the sliding door open to Let the Smoke in.  If asked, I will say it is for cleansing but the simple fact is the house smells bad. My roommate slow cooks black beans and ham which sometimes smells delicious, other times it smells like rotting pork. Tonight is the latter. Plus he burned rice. Again. Wine sounded like a good idea but it clings to my burning throat so I let it go flat in my glass.

The Flake is sniffing ‘round again. Via email since I won’t pick up the phone. I told him about Bill, briefly, and he offered to be that friendly ear. My inner voice felt so loud as it yelled “BUUUUULLSHIT!” that I’m almost surprised he didn’t hear it.

“You don’t get me high anymore” – Phantogram

Is it any wonder I can’t get a rush Anymore?

I have flown with the Navy Blue Angels, broken the sound barrier and nearly blacked out from G-Force (and didn’t puke). I traveled the world for a year on tour singing and dancing onstage in front of tens of thousands of people. I’ve met and interviewed most of my favorite musicians and songwriters. I even gave many of those bands their Big commercial radio Break. I flew Slow and Low while we lit up Baghdad in 2003. I’ve crashed cars at high speed while shooting through a windshield.

How can I not believe that my best days are behind me? 

I didn’t ask for a picture of you in bed. I sure as hell didn’t ask for a picture of your cock. Whenever a text conversation devolves into a request for Cleavage shots, I wonder what did I do or say to invite that kind of attention? Whatever happened to a man who appreciating my Sharp wit as much as my phenomenal tits? Whatever happened to admiring my duality of kindness and badassery?
Yeah, you, I’m talking to you. You ruin my day with your “compliments”.

But no one can hurt me without my permission, right?

My lipstick application is a meditative practice in patience and precision.

I’m flat lining again. I just want to drink and sleep. Focus eludes me, I panic at the hundreds of pages of research in front of me while the hound Im watching whines like a bored toddler. I have a reason to put on pants, Samba rehearsal in an hour but I don’t want to go. I want to close my eyes and dream to escape. Can I make a living sleeping? My bed was the best investment I ever made. Too good, it would seem.

“All the vampires living in the city walk west down Ventura Boulevard” ~Tom Petty

Drunk in the airport, cucumber gimlets swimming in my gut, the impossibly full moon reflecting in the terminal glass, I think “Here we go again. Scotland part 2…at least the soundtrack is better”. The is PA is reading my mind, playing my alt-rock favorites: Muse, U2, Strumbellas, Grouplove, Lucius, Twentyone pilots (one of only two songs I like from them) as well as the one good song from Kings of Leon (Molly’s Chambers). I force myself to put down my phone, look up and make eye contact with strangers (at least the ones who aren’t buried in their own phones). I want to start a conversation with someone but their faces don’t process and I suspect anyone looking at me sees a woman lost.

Well, if you’re not going to make friends then read, I tell myself, picking up the Tim Robbins book a blind date recommended but now 50 pages deep, I’m put off by all the pussy talk and sick of hearing about this chick’s giant thumbs. I want to text someone. I want to text him. To tell him I’m going to his old stomping grounds in California find my own damned seaglass and that he cant have every country song…

My trip to the Pacific Coast was everything that my trip to Scotland wasn’t: Clear and peaceful. I went swing dancing in San Diego, watched F18’s and Seahawks show off against the backdrop of the setting sun on Coronado Island, tried In-N-Out burger to see what the fuss was about (give me Five Guys anytime), made a “pie run” on a crotch rocket through the winding hills to Julien (and popped a wheelie in there along the way), and dropped my bag in the spare bedroom of a friend’s house on Camp Pendleton and headed north, hugging the coast on the PCH (Hwy 1) through the OC, Santa Monica, Malibu…well, the intent was to spend time in Big Sur but I only made it as far as the southernmost tip, around Cambria and the Hearst Castle. From there, Hwy 1 was closed due to rock and mud slides. It rarely rains in CA but I did pick the “rainy season” I suppose. My heart sank but I shook it off almost immediately, promising to return, maybe later this year, to spend quality time exploring the forest. I headed south again along the coast, stopping often to take in the view or explore a trail or cove. I only found one piece of white-ish sea glass, which admitted was a mission this trip as the Flake had collected several lovely pieces for me a few months earlier which he failed to bring or send (I’m still holding strong, by the way. Missing him daily but not enough to pick at that wound).
I marveled at the changing geography: green mountains and forest that resembled Scotland (had the weather been clear) turning into mountains of smooth rock all running alongside cliffs of cold, cold ocean. Elephant seals quietly swam and slept along the shore in the north while their smaller cousins barked and basked on the southern coast.

I caught up with two girlfriends from my Army days with whom I shared a common age and unfortunate history of bad romantic choices. Both had moved to the Pacific Coast to “start over” and within a week or two of going back online to meet people, had met their husbands. One is now married to a young Marine and the other to a Jewish lawyer. It gives me hope and frankly, gets me thinking again about a piece of advice the Millionaire Matchmaker once made: If we are willing to move to improve our professional situations, why wouldn’t we move to improve something as important as our love life? Moving might just improve my odds of meeting someone decent. And the people did seem decent there. Relaxed smiles and not afraid to make eye contact. Perhaps there’s a legal weed joke in there somewhere but I was pleasantly surprised by the laid back culture.

In 2014, after my last trip to the ‘Stan, I added San Diego, sight unseen, to my short list of places I might leaving the Gulf coast for. Now that I’ve seen it, it is at the top of the list. One of the acquaintances I visited who had moved from Florida to the PC several years ago put it in perspective: “I would rather be broke in San Diego than rich anywhere else”. And it IS expensive! With California charging $13 for a $6 bottle of red, eating at least a third of resident’s paychecks in taxes, and the only affordable living being across the border in Mexico, I figured I would have to not only downsize my household but earn at least $60k roughly just to scrape by in that area. Maybe after I finish my MBA, I’ll move to Ocean Beach next to the dog park or Oceanside where I can watch the beautiful boys stripping out of their wet suits and remind myself “Dontstaredontbecreepydontstaredontbecreepydontstaredontbecreepy…”

But I “get” my friend’s sentiment now. The expense is worth it. I wasn’t depressed, not once. Unlike Scotland, I enjoyed even the days alone with my own company. The negative inner demon was silent as I was too busy trying to recall high school Spanish to translate local names. And when out of signal range, there was a soundtrack playing in my head with Tom Petty singing about the vampires on Ventura Boulevard, Courntey Love singing Malibu, Everclear singing Santa Monica, Bugs Bunny singing about the swallows coming back to Capistrano…
I’m going to try and go back before the year is out.