Santa Barbara Harbor and the girls in the basement

For the past three days, as I showered, or chatted with a student or another writer, or walked from one hotel to the other, the girls in the basement have kept up a little series of nudges.  “Now? Can we come out and talk now?”  

Teaching, however, takes a lot of heart energy, mind energy, and while it feeds the well as much or more than anything else I do (the exchange of ideas, the passion for writing, the delight of hearing a voice that’s fantastically well developed, the promise of young writers, the deep pleasure of talking about writing, day after day) there is not much left for the page after a day of talking.   So when I returned from the conference hotel, I walked on the beach.  I ambled around the harbor.   I tried fish tacos for the first time (yum!) and met my cousin Becky one night. 

Last night, I fell asleep early and slept like a teenager.  The girls were sitting on the edge of the bed. “Now can we go to the beach?”  So I ran a brush through my hair, grabbed a coffee and a croissant from the hotel breakfast area and took my notebook to the beach.  

Where we actually wrote very little, honestly.  I sat down and dutifully pulled out my pen and wrote down some notes about my observations last night, and settled to an “in the moment…” writing, and managed to record a little about the point jutting out into the sea, and the look of the water under the dappled sky.  But I kept getting lost in the moment.  The way a wave rises like a mountain, then breaks into white caps and curls down over itself, and splashes on to the beach.  The way the sound would come from my left, like an engine roaring down the beach, racing along to the right, over and over.  The knots of seaweed, the jumping sand flies paying me no attention.  I thought about the crabs along the wall of the harbor, moving in a direction that seemed surprisingly graceful.  I thought about eating their fat legs, though of course it wouldn’t be those crabs.  It still sort of bothered me.  I wish I could stop thinking of meat as animals.   My body seems to want meat, and yet….there’s that little problem of having to KILL something to eat it.  I dunno.

I wrote a few lines about the new novel, and some notes about the on-going memoir project, and the suggestions for a writing book one of the women in the memoir class suggested.  

But I think the girls just wanted to go be there on the beach, alone, watching the waves, feeling that specific wind, loving it.   As we walked back, they were busy in the basement, no longer whining, and I guess that’s what I was supposed to do.

Maybe they will have things to say as I fly home this afternoon.  Though they’re going to have to fight me over the reading I have slated.  🙂



2 thoughts on “Santa Barbara Harbor and the girls in the basement

  1. Cindy

    I grew up in Ventura which is just down the road from SB so I know what a beautiful part of the world you are in. Makes me homesick but I’ll be there myself next month! Can’t wait for the new book. “Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue” is still one of my all time favorites. Cindy

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