< June 19, 1998 >

Sunshine All Over

As always, I had a rough time until we actually got into the air. Way too much worrying for way too little reason. I hate that.

Then on the plane, we were back in the 32nd row, which was right next to the jet engines. Which actually isn't too bad as it's right next to the flight attendants' station and the bathroom and so it's easy to snag more drinks. I also had packed my earplugs, so I slept really soundly, which helped, immensely.

We arrived around 10:30, took another hour or so to get our luggage and the rental car, as they had run out of the sub-compacts we'd reserved, and so they gave us a bit of a boat, a Grand Am. The guy said that we'd lucked out, but I like the smaller cars for their fuel efficiency. Ah well. Turns out that the X-Games were in San Diego for the weekend, so it was going to be a full weekend.

It was pretty late so El Indio's was closed as we wandered by it from the airport, so, instead, we went to the other pilgrimage spot, In and Out Burgers. Everytime we go to Southern California, we have a few pilgrimage spots that are our personal Mecca's, which must be visited. They are El Indio's, In and Out Burger, Tommy's and Samson's. All but Tommy's is in the San Diego area, so that's the one that we get to the least often but with the most energy when we do, even unto eating a breakfast of their chili burgers. They're all supposed to be fast food joints, but they all do their work superbly, with a few things that no other place can offer.

In and Out, for example, only cooks their burgers when ordered, so they're always completely fresh. They also peel and cut fresh potatos for their fries, so that they have a texture unlike any other fast food place I've ever eaten at. They're crisp, tender and with the full body of a fresh spud.

So John and I had burgers at midnight, with pop and fries and plenty of ketsup. Yum. Then went to my parents' house and got let in by my dad.

The house was as I have always remember it, a typical Californian ranch-style house with tiled roof, low brick walls, and a single wrought iron gate. What surprised me was the bathroom, as it was the bathroom that I'd always used when I was in high school. What surprised me was my face in the mirror that I had always used, as I had many memories of my teenage face in that mirror. The juxtaposition of my present face on that familiar surface was so odd, and reminded me forcibly that I was no teenager.

Not that that was a surprise.

I have this tradition, every time I go back to my parents's house and the trip with some time in the living room, looking out the panoramic windows which overlook the San Diego Bay. It's a gorgeous view, as the house is at the top of Mount Soledad, so it includes the lights of the city spread out into the blackness of the water that surrounds it. This time, however, I settled in the living room that very night, and watched the lights and the water for a while before going into bed.

Mom and Dad had planned anything for John and I during any of the days of our trip, mostly to allow us plenty of time to sleep and to let us just bum around during the day. So we did both. We slept in fairly late, munch various things that were available for breakfast. That included one of the mangos from the case that Mom bought. Mom knows that I like mangos, and always gets quite a few of them before I arrive so that they are ripe and ready to eat. So I usually spend most of the vacation eating mangos for breakfast. Not a bad deal.

After breakfast we hopped into the car and drove for La Jolla Cove and downtown La Jolla in order to get a little shopping done, look at some Birkenstocks in case John's couldn't be repaired, and to allow me a walk of significant length. All the above happened.

The one unexpected thing was the sunshine. It was very, very bright. So bright that both of the pairs of sunglasses that I'd brought were inadequate to the problem. So my priority was to find a decent pair of sunglasses. We meandered all along the near-coastal line of downtown La Jolla, and along the shopping district. At one point John stopped at a beach shop that had lots of cool shorts and I saw that they had all their sunglasses on sale up to sixty percent off, so I looked around and found a fairly good looking pair of mirrored shades. So I bought them.

They were solidly made, nicely finished, had good shade to the lenses, and they were utterly unscratched or messed with and they looked pretty good on me. So I was pretty stoked, and enjoyed them as we walked. We went all around the edge of town then back through to a nice stationary shop that also sold greeting cards and we bought a bunch of cards. John got his parents two anniversary cards, and I bought another Father's Day card for Dad because the one that I'd bought him before was at home, in Seattle. So that was useful.

We really wanted to get to the beach on our first day out, too, but the La Jolla Cove has cool walking pathes and stuff, but El Nino had taken most of the beaches there out to sea and while the sea was gradually giving the beaches back, there wasn't all that much sand there. So we drove down to Pacific Beach, found parking in a very lucky spot and then wandered down the broadwalk admiring all that there was to view. We stopped at Big Olaf's and had sundaes in big cones and then walked out to the water and wandered up and down the water-packed sand. The wind was whipping along at a pretty quick clip so I was glad that we hadn't brought along swim suits as it would have been cold.

The green hair was pretty amazing in the solid wind, bannering out and gleaming in the sunshine. Fun.

By then my knee was protesting all the walking, so we got into the car and drove to Cost Plus. It's a big imports store, filled with the kitch of a hundred different, cheaper nations, and there is one up in the Seattle area, we just haven't discovered it, yet, and we knew where the one in La Jolla was, so we went to it and plundered it of the things that we wanted. The one thing that they no longer carried that kinda peeved me was the biscotti mix that I usually get from them. Oh well.

One exquisite find was something that I'd seen in Signals catalogs (the public broadcast and radio kitch catalogs) for about twice the price. It was a softball sized wooden carving of a monk in meditation. He's curled up on himself, all inward turned, head in hands on crossed ankles, the muscles of his shoulders, arms, thighs all in deep relief. Each finger, toe, ear is distinct. The wood is smooth and nearly silky to the touch, and it fits into the hands so perfectly, a fingertip running along creases and smoothness. It's a great meditation object. So I got one for myself and then thought about it and got one for Dad as well, and was happy.

After that we went back to the house, and was greeted by a house filled with marvelous scents of dinner. Mom and Dad were busy cooking and wanted us out of the way, so we sat and watched World Cup soccer while they cooked. Kathy arrived in the midst of preparations.

Dinner was, as always, wonderful.

They'd cooked six dishes, each carefully prepared and each delicious and marvelous. Dry cooked green beans, Chilean Sea Bass with fermented black soy bean paste, ribs, stir fried greens, giant New Zealand mussels with a savory sauce, and stir fried shrimp in a transparent sauce. Yum. Plenty of rice and plenty of tea and plenty of stability in which to settle and just eat and talk and share and catch up on each others lives again. That was very keen.

Afterwards, Kathy brought out all the To the Moon tapes, which were TV shows done by the same folks that did Apollo 13. She showed us Apollo 11, the second crew to land on the moon, and it was in a cool buddy flick style. Then the one with the Caltech geology professor and how he taught rocket jocks to actually become rock jocks. As the pilots were all highly intelligent just not motivated by, well, of all things, *rocks*, so he managed to motivate 'em with the mysteries that could be told and unraveled by the *right* rock. That was very keen.

Then we made sure of our plans for Sunday and she went home to get some sleep before getting picked up the next morning at 9am to go to, of all places, Knott's Berry Farm. I was pretty glad that John and I had nothing planned other than getting to a certain address in Burbank the next day by 7:00 p.m. Simple is sometimes best.

© 1998 by Liralen Li.

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