The old, curvy freeway ended, turning into Pacific Coast Highway. I was once told it was curved on purpose, in order to prevent sleeping drivers. The beach to my left. Waves crashing against the sand that becomes hard when it’s wet. The light blue lifeguard towers are numbered so that beach goers have some kind of reference point. I never pay attention to these numbers, maybe hoping to get lost on the long beach with the warm sand between my toes and the same waves crashing up and down the miles of shoreline that we will never destroy on purpose. We love it to much. We are greedy in that way, choosing which nature is ours to keep. I always seem to make it back to my car.
I turn right onto a narrower curvy road, heading into the Santa Monica hills. There’s a sense of mystery in these hills. A lifestyle that I’ve only seen in magazines and movie screens. The houses are sprawling and grand.
The left overs of last night’s shenanigans could be seen if you looked closely at my tired eyes. A friend of a friend’s apartment with dark stains on their beige carpet and rings in their toilet. We drank beer. Some watched hockey, yelling loudly, as though the players would alter their skills for the fans on the opposite side of the computer screen. It did not matter to me whether the Ducks or the Kings won so I stood in the kitchen, speaking to those as indifferent as me. Or simply more interested in talking. The night went on with dancing burly men, and that game where you stab the in betweens of fingers faster and faster. I watched. I laughed. I liked them. They liked me. There is a feeling when it is mutual that way. Connection is a curious phenomenon.
I drove home on the 405N. No break lights for miles It was me and a few others flying at 2 in the morning. My puppy, so happy I had not abandoned her, came and lay down on top of my shoulder. She would know if I left in the night. And that’s how we slept.
Now I sat across from this woman in her house that was spotless, yet felt lived in, with a few dirty dishes in the sink and a TV playing cartoons in the other room. The carpets on the wood floors were exotic and vibrant. There were books piled high on the coffee table. They were meant to be looked at rather than read, with large, sharp images on every page. Some beautiful, some shocking. The walls were white, accented with pictures in picture frames, artsy and intriguing. There was music playing from speakers I could not find. It was peaceful. The kind of music you would listen to while meditating. Not that I would know. I don’t know if my brain could ever turn off. It is an affliction I deal with daily. Thinking constantly.
The woman sitting across me told me how she built this life. She had milky skin and light pink lips. The top one was slightly fuller than the bottom. Her eyes were kind and dark, and her voice was soft and melodic. She was in her pajamas. Some pants you would find in Asia, tight at the ankles and loose in between. A top just fitted enough to slightly hug her slim body. Her hair was wavy and long and uncombed. If felt like a fairytail. The sun shining through the pine needles in her backyard trees. It made them imaginary. They disappeared, but you knew they were still there. The needles that is. They filtered the light through the big glass window filling up her wall. Causing sun drops rather than rain drops. Their presence reflected onto us as we spoke. First me with a question. And then her with the answer. I would write about her. Her semi celebrity status and her beauty brand she made by testing different natural ingredients on her face.
We hugged and I left after petting her cat goodbye and taking one last look at the house that seemed impossible. Swerving down the Santa Monica hills I had ventured up back into the life I understood.