The dog beach

The shy March sun caressed my bare shoulders as we waded through dry sand. I held our beagle’s leash firmly even though we were on the dog beach. It was Harley’s first experience around other off-leash dogs. She stayed at my side, her brown eyes wide and her tail hooked down in the question mark position.

The shoreline was a flurry of activity. Dogs dashed past into frothing waves. Owners threw frisbees and balls. Tails wagged and rear ends were sniffed. My husband and I found a spot at the edge of the wet sand and set up our chairs. I held my breath and unhooked Harley’s leash, wondering if she would run off. She cowered behind my chair.

The sky was brilliant blue and clear of clouds, although helicopters made regular appearances as they monitored the coastline. The sand and breeze were cool, balancing out the relentless rays of the sun. Not quite swimsuit weather for me, although some of the other beach goers didn’t shy away from them.

A white Lab trotted over to check us out. His friendly face convinced us to allow him to approach Harley. Our beagle froze in place while the dog sniffed her. Whew! We made it through one encounter.

To our left, someone had left their towel and bad in the sand while they were at the water. Two dogs came up to sniff around it. One raised his leg. A woman in a bikini shouted at them and they scattered. Harley watched intently.

Another group of dogs flew past us and circled around to that same towel and bag. Barking madly, Harley jumped up and raced over there to chase them off. I called her and she returned, proud of herself.

It was a pleasant morning watching dogs enjoy themselves. Smiling and panting, soaked with sea water, they raced up and down the water line. The owners actively supervised their dog children to prevent fights. Harley didn’t join in, but she watched.

After a few hours, our pink skin convinced us we’d had enough sun for the day. As I clipped on Harley’s leash, she held me with her sad eyes. We walked toward the Jeep, half-dragging her with us.

Maybe next time she’ll be ready to join the fun.

From Culture to Chaos

getty

 

The Getty Villa in Malibu is not the usual Harley ride we experience with the Harley Owners Group (HOGs). In fact it normally would not appear on our calendar, but someone at the activity meeting raised their hand and suggested it. The Getty Villa was once the home of the Getty Art Museum before its current location near the Hollywood Bowl. The buildings in themselves are works of art, and they house a famous collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.

Early that morning, I shivered even with my layers of sweaters under my leather jacket and leather chaps over my jeans. It was a cool southern California winter day, just warm enough to ride and make Midwestern motorcyclists jealous. Grateful that our Ultra had a windshield, I hid behind my husband’s back as he rode to our meeting place.

At kickstands up time, we left Riverside to head toward the beach. The freeway ride wasn’t memorable, except for the light Sunday traffic through downtown Los Angeles. A jagged mishmash of tall buildings looked forlorn as they waited for the work week to start again. Dark clouds hung over the distant mountains, but the western view toward the beach was cool and sunny. A perfect day to ride.

After our group of fifteen bikes took turns to pay parking at the main gate, we were directed up the hill over the rough paving stones, our teeth chattering as we rode. A helpful parking attendant led us to our own section in the covered parking garage.

Our group stayed mostly together as we walked through the exhibit rooms. Rooms were filled with vases and larger than life human figures. The male statues obviously were based on an ideal form and not real men. Many of the statues were missing heads or arms, due to the lack of art appreciation from invading armies. One exhibit featured mosaic floors that had been removed from ruins, with multicolored tiny tiles forming pictures of hunting parties.

After wandering the gardens and courtyards filled with black statues, we had worked up an appetite for lunch. One of the guys suggested Neptune’s Net, a biker hangout on Pacific Coast Highway. We pulled on jackets, helmets, and gloves and lined up to exit the parking garage.

That’s when we became celebrities. As the line of roaring motorcycles (amplified by the covered parking garage) filed out, a group of at least fifty Asian tourists mobbed us with cries of “Harley, Harley!” and “Handsome man!” The woman, none younger than 60 years old, stood next to the front bike as their husbands took photos. Then they allowed one bike to pass, and they did it again for the next one, all the way through entire group. When we finally escaped without harming any people or bikes, we headed up PCH with the wind in our faces and the roar of the surf to our left.

We wound through the tiny communities that hug the beach until we reached the restaurant. It was a small building with mostly outdoor searing with the entire front covered with motorcycles. Not just Harleys but hundreds of sport bikes of every brand. I saw a Ducati parked next to a Yamaha that was next to a BMW. Across the street, on the beach side, hundreds of bikers stood on sand dune, talking and looking out at the ocean.

It took a while to find a spot at the end of the long line of motorcycles parked on the edge of the highway. As we walked up to the line to order lunch, I noticed that in addition to the traditional leather clad bearded biker guys, there were hipsters sporting handlebar moustaches, multiple piercings, and vintage store clothes. There also were families with young children that apparently had arrived by car and sports bike riders in full off road motorcycle outfits.

Thankfully the restaurant owners knew that bikers with full stomachs are happier than hungry ones, and we got our food quickly. My fish and chips were delicious, and the seafood platter I saw down the table looked substantial even for the hungriest rider.

Seating was cramped so some of the groups merged at the picnic tables. We shared stories with a biker up from Venice. After I told him about our rock star experience at the Getty Villa, he chuckled like he was there. He told us about their chapter ride that brought the entire state’s members together that day. Even though our riding clubs were very different, sharing food together at this moment, at the beach, on a brilliant sunny day united us as a community of adventurers.

Finally we gathered up our group and formed a plan to meet up at a gas station a few miles down the road. It would be too dangerous to line up our bikes on the side of the highway. However this did not stop the sport bike club from lining up in the middle turn lane and roaring off together without looking back toward traffic. My husband pulled out onto the road, only to have a huge swarm of roaring motorcycles fly by us. The noise was so loud I wanted to cover my ears but I already was wearing my helmet.

As we allowed the bikes to pass and followed them at a distance, I relaxed against my backrest and tapped my com button to listen to music. I thought about the hushed rooms at the Villa compared to the roar of the crowds at Neptune’s Net. We were heading home from another amazing adventure, one that had taken us from culture to chaos.

Sea Turtles

sea turtle

 

Ancient eyes watched me struggle to breathe through my snorkel. An immense shell blocked the sunlight filtering through the water and suddenly I was aware of the sea turtle floating close to me. I backed away from its penetrating gaze. Curiosity drew it closer, but I pushed away in obedience to the guide’s direction that we were not to touch the turtles. Hanging in the current, the creature was completely at ease, for it could stay under water for hours without going to the surface for air.

However this was my first snorkeling trip, and I still felt nervous trusting a narrow tube poking out a foot above the rocking waves to provide me with a consistent flow of oxygen. My breathing was rushed and desperate like a newly trained astronaut on their first mission. I remembered all the snorkelers we saw at the beach the day before, their faces in the water, barely moving their legs, arms at their sides. As my breathing slowed down, my body relaxed into the warm tropical water. I kicked farther away from the turtle and followed the other fins in front of me.

The underwater landscape was a peaceful change from the bumpy ride we endured on our Zodiac raft in route to the diving spot. Schools of black and yellow striped fish flowed around the coral reef with little effort. Turquoise and orange striped fish picked algae off the bottom. Tiny white fish streamed out of holes in the volcanic rock. In the distance I could see the massive shapes of other sea turtles, resting in the cradle of current. Pale grey fish, as large and as flat as dinner plates, swam right in front of my face. Streams of bubbles and chopping of swim fins provided the soundtrack to this alien world. My husband and the others in our group hung on the surface of the ocean, mesmerized by the abundance and variety of marine life.

Suddenly I sniffed up some water that had leaked into my mask and I lifted my head, choking on salt water. The waves lifted and dropped me roughly as I found it harder to breathe without the snorkel than when I had my head underwater. My stomach heaved and I got sick, unfortunately still with the snorkel in my mouth.

The guide that remained on the boat called out to me, “Are you alright?”

Not wanting to sound wimpy, I replied, “I am now!”

After rinsing out my snorkel, I replaced my mask and put my face back in the water. The churning ceased as I was back in the calm underwater world once more. This time it was easier to breathe, and I watched the show around me through the window of my mask. Time was suspended. There was no sense of the bustle of the air-breathing world above us. Fish grazed on the algae covered coral like brightly colored sheep. A grey fish with yellow fins and tail regarded me with disdain before swishing past my face. Turtles paddled to the surface for air and dropped back down into the depths.

Gradually I became aware that I didn’t see any other fins around me. Reluctantly, I lifted my head to see the rest of our group back on the raft. The guide waved at me, and I paddled toward her. It was time to return to the world of man.

Friends

beach

Your friendship starts small. You dip your toe in and cringe. “Too cold!”

Disappointed, she pulls away, giving you time to adjust. After a while, she creeps up again, this time with lacy froth.

Your feet stay in. “It’s not that bad.”

You follow after your new friend as she leaves again. Roaring with laughter, she hugs you tight, almost knocking you off your feet.

“Too much!” you complain, and this time she wrestles you down to the sand. Gasping for breath, you’ve had enough, and you turn away. Gently she holds you, pulling you toward her as your feet sink in the soft sand. Wave after wave, she tries to convince you to come back and play with her.

But you’re finished. It’s time to get out of the ocean and relax in your beach chair. Time to read about other friends’ lives.

Plain Old Lucy- Scene Five

nc-food-and-beverage-pub

Back at O’Connell’s Pub in New York. The buyers are at the bar.

CANDY

Here we are, one month later. Lucy, I’m so glad you changed your mind about coming here. Of course, if you want to go somewhere else, we can. But this place is fabulous!

LUCY

It’s okay, guys. You don’t always have to choose the place I want to go to. There’s just something about it. It’s old and a little creepy.

SUSIE

Creepy or not, this pub has been good luck for you, girl. Ever since we came here  last month, your business has been through the roof! Not to mention all your orders come in on time. You even designed 2 new styles of jeans that were approved with only one fitting! You’re golden now.

CANDY

All my vendor friends are talking about you, Lucy. All the men want to take you out and all the women want to look like you.

LUCY

Thanks, guys, but we’re all a team. And I can’t really say I’ve had good luck today. When I called the office, Sean didn’t answer. It isn’t like him to be out of the office when we are all in New York.

DAVID

(To Lucy) Cheer up, Lucy. I know you’re used to working with that boy, but you’re going to get a real executive assistant when we get back. You’ll need one. (To their group)Now that we’re all here, I want to make an announcement. Our business at Lucky 17 has grown considerably this past year. We’ve opened 10 new stores on the west coast. I’m going to need some help with those stores. Starting now, Lucy will be my lead buyer and Junior Vice President of Lucky 17.

LUCY

Wow! David, I don’t know even know how to thank you. Didn’t see that coming. Umm, I need to speak with you, privately. You may have to rethink your decision.

 

DAVID

You’re scaring me! Did Next to the Beach call you in for an interview? I’ll double whatever they’re offering you. But I’d love to talk to you privately. I have another proposal for you.

Just then, Mr. Green enters the bar. He sits down at the booth. The bartender brings him a beer.

LUCY

(looking determined, to David) I’ve to speak with someone first.

She walks over to Mr. Green.

LUCY

I told you already. You can take the glamour back. I don’t need your beauty! I should have listened to my assistant a long time ago. Now I only have one year left. If that’s all I have, I want to make the most of it. Even without the glamour.

MR. GREEN

Well, lassie, that’s why I’m here. I’ve accepted your alternate form of payment, and I’m willing to take back your glamour.

LUCY

Really? I don’t have to give you my life?

  1. GREEN

Not any more.  Come sit with me while I undo the magic.

Lucy sits down at the booth. Mr. Green reaches over to the top of her head and yanks an invisible sheet off her.

LUCY

Thank you so much, Mr. Green. Even though the glamour made everyone notice me, I still knew it was fake. Susie and Candy don’t really respect me. David only spent time with me because of the enchantment. I admit it was fun for a while. Now that I only have a short time left, I want to find someone who likes the real me, even if I am plain.

MR. GREEN

(Chuckling) Humans! Think they see everything and they’re so blind! Pity you did not see him while he worked by your side. It’s hard to believe that your faery friend would stand up for a human. He must have cared deeply for you.

LUCY

(Shocked) It was Sean who paid for me

MR. GREEN

Oh, he paid all right. He volunteered to pay your debt with 100 years of service, effective immediately. The way he looked when he realized he was giving up being with you for the last year of your life. Such sacrifice for a faery? Unheard of, at least in the past century. Makes the deal even sweeter.

LUCY

(Almost to herself) He took my place?

MR, GREEN

Well, miss, I must be going. Fare thee well.

Lucy walks over to the bar. She’s still in shock. Everyone ignores her. Her phone rings, and she picks it up.

LUCY

Hello? Yes, this is Lucy Mason. (She listens) What do you mean there’s been an error in processing my lab work? (She listens) Of all the incompetence! (Listens) Of course I’m relieved. Wouldn’t you be? (She hangs up)

(To David) David, the doctor’s office called. There was a mix-up with my blood samples! I’m not sick, just a vitamin deficiency! I’m going to live!

DAVID

(Ignoring her) Candy, let’s toast to your great business! One of these days, I’m going to promote you to lead buyer. (Finally realizing Lucy is talking to him)

Lucy, what did you need?

LUCY

Never mind. (To herself) It was all fake. Oh well, everything is back to normal.

(To herself and audience) I can’t believe you did it, Sean. How could I not see you, listening to me and caring about me- just the way I really was. One hundred years is a very expensive price to pay. (She pauses.) But I think I can do it now. It’s the only way to live a real life. From now on, I’ll be myself, plain old Lucy.

Heaven’s Tears

Puffy white clouds scoot across the sun in a brilliant blue sky. The air is crispy fresh, and the sand is cool under bare feet. Waves dump foam close to me. On the horizon, a bank of grey threatens but the sunny present holds my attention. After wandering along the debris strewn water line, I found just the right spot to spread out my towel. Relaxing my curves into the moldable sand, I close my eyes and feel the support beneath me. My mind drifts into sleepy places, and then suddenly, a cold splash hits my cheek. It’s nothing, I reassure myself. Plink! Plink! Two drops hit my eyelids. Grudgingly I sit up. The increasing barrage of water announces that the thunderheads have snuck up on me. I grab my towel and dash to the parking lot, woken up by heaven’s tears.