In the fifth week of our series we pick up at chapter 8: “La-La Laguna”
If you’re just coming across this series, you can catch up from the beginning HERE.
From the trilogy
Somewhere Between This & That: An Absurd Journey
THE MAKING OF A NATURAL DISASTER
This is a work of fiction. Although it is written in the form of an autobiography, it is not one. Clearly, no reasonable person would ever consider this absurd story to be true. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. With the exception of public figures and those with reputations of public renown, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Full of salty language – This is intended for mature audiences.
I WAS THRILLED to see my mother. Not only was she walking again, which was nothing short of miraculous, but she looked healthy and strong. She had some meat on her bones and color to her face. Her head was now full of long flowing braids. They weren’t cornrows like Bo Derek sported in the movie “10”. These fell naturally around her face as if her hair just mysteriously grew that way. Most of her hair still hadn’t returned since the accident, but instead of wigs or turbans, she had long extensions braided in. The beads, feathers, and small gold leaves in her waist-length braids made her appear ethereal. I loved when she’d let me bead and feather her hair. As I would slide the pale pink, white, and lavender beads onto her braids, I was sure I had the most beautiful mother in the world.
We were in Laguna Beach and living in a house much nicer than any we’d lived in before. It had a multitude of windows and balconies with a view of the Pacific Ocean that was staggering, particularly at sunset. I had my own bathroom and balcony off my bedroom in a quiet part of the house.
I dreaded the thought of starting the third school of my 5th-grade year, but I took comfort in the fact that it was April, and summer was just around the corner. There would only be a couple of months to deal with nasty kids and a rotten teacher. I was pleasantly surprised on my first day to find kids who were welcoming and friendly. My teacher was the best though. He was nice and incredibly handsome. I thought he looked like Robert Redford and he was solidly my first crush on a teacher.
Smoke and I started to get along a little better. Actually, we were getting along great. There weren’t many children in our neighborhood for me to make friends with, but Smoke was kind of a big kid. He and I would do things Mom was just completely uninterested in, like going to the park or the arcade. He also taught me how to play backgammon, but nothing could compare to the beautiful beaches of Laguna. Smoke would often take me, but I was also allowed the freedom to go alone and I spent most of my time there.
My favorite beach to go to was a relatively small stretch called Thousand Steps Beach. The top of the steep staircase that led to the sand was surrounded by enchanting tropical flora. There weren’t really a thousand steps, but it sure seemed like it, especially on the way back up. I’d body surf and boogie board on the southernmost part of the beach as the area just to the north was fiercely guarded by surfers.
There were rocks to climb, reefs to explore, and a cave on the south end you could walk through when the tide was low. It led to a smaller and more secluded beach some locals referred to as “Tits Cove”. Its challenging location made it attractive to topless sunbathers, but I enjoyed its collection of small tide pools. The area around Thousand Steps Beach was absolutely teeming with marine wildlife. I could see a colorful array of sea urchins, starfish, sea anemones, and all manner of mollusks. At the ends of the rock formations jutting out into the Pacific were sometimes seals and sea lions, beyond that, dolphins, and whales.
I was an extraordinarily strong and utterly fearless swimmer. I’d often venture out beyond the point on the south end in hopes of seeing a seal or sea lion. I’d see dolphins in the distance and fruitlessly try to will them in my direction to play. Sometimes I just liked to paddle out and lay on my boogie board, feeling the sun on my face. While floating about on one bright summer day I had a close encounter with a gentle giant. This glistening slate blue beautiful creature seemed to appear from out of nowhere and its size took my breath away. I knew it wasn’t going to eat me, but I figured it was still best not to make any false moves. I tried to be as still as possible, but I just couldn’t resist. I reached out my arm as far as I could while trying to keep my body from getting any closer to it. I extended and stretched every muscle down my arm and through my hand until my fingers were shaking. I managed to touch just a little of it’s smooth, rubbery feeling skin with only the very tippy-tips of three of my fingers. Then I very quickly moved away. I knew the tail was coming and I wanted no part of it. I watched in awe as it gracefully glided by me and continued its journey north. I’m no scientist, but I’m convinced the lone colossal mammal I encountered was a magnificent blue whale. Of the many amazing experiences I’ll have, this will remain one of my favorites.
Laguna Beach is well known to be a haven for creative types who’ve long basked in its beauty as a source of inspiration. On occasion, some of these people found their way to our house. An eclectic mix of artists, music industry people, and inevitable hangers-on of all types were around. A surf realism artist and a popular Greek singer were added to the mix. There was also a biker and his hippie old lady who lived with us for a spell. Quite the odd couple, they smelled like a strange blend of patchouli, reefer, leather, and wheatgrass, with just a hint of B.O. Equally harsh on the nostrils was the Persian “businessman” who was always drenched in cologne. Male and female exotic dancers, a sea captain whose ship had sunk, and a former football player or two could also be found at our house.
I found some of these people, with their variety of nationalities, proclivities, and walks of life fascinating. I also just tried to stay away from some of them, especially the ones who smelled funny. The house was large enough that I could usually escape any weirdos, or more outrageous party happenings, by going to my room and reading a good book. A woman wandered into my part of the house on one of my more solitary evenings and stuck her head in my room. She was looking for a bathroom and doing the pee-pee dance.
“You can use mine, it’s through there.” I offered.
I was only slightly annoyed by her intrusion. She must’ve passed two bathrooms on the way to my room, but she was clearly lost and desperate to relieve herself.
“Thank you so much,” she gushed as she stuck her head out the bathroom door while washing her hands.
“Your welcome,” I replied, barely looking up from my book.
“Hey, you want a toot?” She offered.
“Sure,” I said, dropping my book, and skipping to the bathroom.
I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, but I was interested. Could it be some new gum or candy I hadn’t heard of? Maybe a “toot” and a “toke” are similar and she had a joint? I hadn’t smoked pot since Alice and I got busted throwing that little brat in the dryer with the cat. A joint would be cool on a lazy evening of book reading. When I saw the lines of white powder on my bathroom counter I recoiled.
“No, that’s okay, I thought you were talking about something else.”
I was a little embarrassed, but somehow my ten-year-old lexicon didn’t yet include the word “toot” as a reference for cocaine. I certainly appeared and acted older than my years, but not THAT much older. I suppose I could’ve passed for twelve, or maybe even thirteen if you were high, but what was this woman thinking? She was clearly insane, but then again, insane wasn’t all that unusual around our house.
Lyric’s otherworldly good looks and charismatic personality attracted some particularly crazy folks, especially men. While living in Laguna, Mom managed to rack up no less than three lovesick stalkers. One evening, her dress was ripped by a rather rotund singer who chased her around the house, begging her to marry him. Another lovelorn individual stuck a picture of my mother to his chest and attempted suicide by shooting himself with a flare gun down on the oceanfront. The third busted into Mom and Smoke’s bedroom one night. Obsessed and coked out of his mind, he held them at gunpoint.
“I MUST HAVE HER!” He screamed in his Middle Eastern accent.
A naked Smoke quickly disarmed this diminutive foreigner. Armed or not, he was no match for a man who’d served as a Marine in Viet Nam.
For some reason, it was decided it might be an appropriate time for us to move again. The news of our move came to me from out of the blue and there was little time to pack. I stayed up late to listen to the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana on the radio and pondered what the next place might be like. Is there a beach? If not, will it at least be flat enough for me to roller skate again? Will there be kids to play with? What will the school be like? I had no answers. All I knew for sure was that I would miss Laguna and all its splendor, very much.
The absurd journey continues in chapter 9: “Apologies to Mr. Jagger”
If you don’t want to wait, you can purchase the paperback or eBook HERE
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