Thursday, June 15th. A warm spring evening. I’ve discovered that my OCD with tidiness has caused the inadvertent deletion of most of my blog’s photos. I hadn’t realized that every time I deleted a photo from my media library, it also deletes it from the blog. Ugh, what a project to go back and find all those old photos, re-upload and put them in the right place. I become overwhelmed and grumpy. I accept an invite from an old coworker to meet for drinks out on the wharf. I’m house sitting on the edge of town and decide to borrow the house’s cruiser bike and ride along West Cliff, the beach front promenade through Santa Cruz. The sun is out and the water sparkling, surfers clumped here and there, waiting for their chance, bobbing on top of the swell. The walkers are out en mass and I observe the infinite variety of humanity Santa Cruz has to offer in the short 20 minute ride down to the wharf. I pass a homeless man muttering to himself. He pushes a cart flying flags that shout, “Fuck Trump!”. A small dog is perched on top of his loaded cart and it barks enthusiastically at the end of the man’s pronouncements. It seems oddly, to agree with his political views. Next, I encounter an Amish couple. I’m not making this up. He in beard and suspenders, she in an apron and bonnet. I feel for her as my mother used to dress me in a similar fashion. After my initial mortification upon seeing the photo for the first time in 35 years, I have since seen other poor souls whose mothers dressed them thus and sent them hapless, to school photo day. It must have been a thing.
“Ching, ching!” I ring my little bike bell as I weave through the people, bicycles, skateboards, and dogs. As I bump out onto the wharf, the smell of creosote greets me and brings me back to my childhood at the beach. I encounter Robert. Robert the Pink Man. I don’t know how or why I know his name, but there you have it. For years he wandered up and down the Pacific Garden Mall dressed in pink chiffon, a pink umbrella, and clownish make-up. His signature style was to stare off into space with a vacuous smile while taking the tiniest steps imaginable. He never spoke. People either seem to think he was the greatest thing ever or despise him passionately. It is peculiar what emotions Robert the Pink Man can arouse. Rumor has it he was a Silicon Valley mogul who had quite enough and decided to take a different path. Quite literally. This evening Robert was stepping out briskly, dressed in mostly normal clothes but pink shoes covered in bling, and his omnipresent pink umbrella.
I bump into my friend and her fella and we make our way up to Olitas happy hour. They serve a taco and margarita for $7 and have blue water views that look out over the Monterey bay. We talk and imbibe and catch up on old work gossip and new happenings: a Great White shark recently bumping kayakers in the bay, my friend and her man had just purchased a 5 acre farm in Oregon for less than you could buy a rat infested studio apartment in Santa Cruz, the recent scandal involving a local hospital surgeon and his affairs…with small children. My blog photo disaster fades into the background. This turns out to be, hands down, the strongest margarita I have ever sipped. I’m feeling it after an inch. After the whole glass, I decide it was a stroke of genius to ride a bike rather than drive. Feeling fortified by my margarita and taco, my blog completely forgotten, my mind swimming with thoughts of a Oregon road trip, paddling on rivers, hiking through forests, taking in Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival, I unsteadily mount the bike and started to wobble towards home. “Ching! Ching!” goes the little bell. A hippy couple steps back from their tailgate BBQ and waves. I love the long days. Even at 7:30pm, the sun is bright, and warm and I smile in a happy haze at everyone and everything as I toodle back along West Cliff. A motion on the ocean (hey that rhymes) catches my eye. In the couple of hours I spent at Olitas, the Sooty Shearwaters have arrived on their annual migration! They look like a dark river just above the surface of the ocean. There are millions upon millions of them. You look to the left and the river stretches as far as the eye can see, with no end in sight. Same to the right. The river goes on day and night for days on end. The numbers are staggering. The Shearwaters are here for their happy hour too. These little birds travel upwards of 40,000 miles a year and come by our stretch of coast to feed on squid and anchovies. Cheers to you, little birds!