da cruz


Lizzie, the neighbor lady, brought her teenage nephew and his friend over to our house this evening to meet us. Lizzie knows that my usual reaction to the presence of adolescent boys on my property is to squeeze off a warning shot, and that's when I'm feeling polite. But she knew we'd want to meet them because they live in Santa Cruz, California.

My wife and I used to live in Santa Cruz.

My wife and I met in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz is in our blood.

So the boys came over and we swapped a few stories and we asked about stuff that ex-inhabitants ask about -- is that restaurant still there, is the university still gorgeous, are certain characters still hanging around, you know the sort of queries. The boys were polite, not what you might expect from lads so abundantly pierced, and they indulged us as we went on and on about how much we liked the place and how much it meant to us. I wouldn't be surprised if our affection and identification with S.C. convinced them that they can no longer live there and be cool.

We chatted for twenty minutes or so and then they went on their merry way to spend the rest of their visiting weekend doing things that boys with intentional holes in their tongues do.

So now I've got Santa Cruz Fever. I want to go there. Real bad.

I spent my early twenties there, and it must be true for a big chunk of humanity that wherever one spends one's early twenties is a de facto site of romance and magic and lost innocence and romance and experimentation of many kinds and romance and heartbreak and wild parties and music and did I mention romance? You could probably blindfold a chimp and have him live the way anyone that age lives and he'd come away with a scrapbook just like mine.

So now I suppose we'll have to plan a trip up north. Amy is old enough to form travel memories of her own, and I want to show her the place where her mom and dad met.

If we're lucky (I'm not specifying which kind of luck) we'll even run into the man who brought my wife and me together. He's an actor who still lives and lurks in those parts, and he shows up far too frequently in feature films and TV commercials. I have a videotape of him being interviewed by a local cable access channel in Santa Cruz and in this glimpse into the man lies the epitome of the phrase "a legend in his own mind". The guy is a ride.

It doesn't feel like half my life ago, but it was. I had a big beard. I had no car. And I had a circle of friends of the sort possible only among youths in search of love and comfort and themselves. The conversations of my contemporaries nowadays are riddled with different types of angst, and pains are soothed with different balms. In late nights of solitude, my mind drifts back to those days, and sometimes I try to remember specific conversations, moods we were in, thoughts we were having, but what comes back is mostly blur. It's been so long that most conversations are now just what I think someone might have said. There are a few exchanges I remember verbatim, but they are all negative, burned into the cerebral cortex and then transferred somewhere deep where memory serves to warn and keep its host safe from repeating lessons already learned.

There's little doubt that I was more romantic, though probably just as serious. Passionate for sure, and yes just a bit stupider, but excusable due to innocence.

It's frightening how far backward one can go given the right trigger.

Maybe those Santa Cruz boys were sent over here to fire a warning shot of their own.

If that's the case, their trajectory was a tad low. They hit gut.


Today's Music:

"Names And Addresses" -- Junior Brown -- Guit With It


Wisdom of the Day:

"Every man's memory is his private literature."

-- Aldous Huxley