When I lived in Seattle on Larry’s floor I used to wait for him to get home from work so we could take a walk about. We would gear up a backpack with a camera and our notebooks and head off on foot to stalk the city. We didn’t spend money anywhere, what a different time in life that was, just nine years ago. Maybe depending on how much we’d cooked at home that week we’d go to the Turkish place or a side alley for cheap Thai. Or Chinatown, which is what Larry loved. We set out with no agenda and let the city move us all around.
That’s how I feel about the trolley in Laguna. It runs for free from mid June until Sept 1. I can go out to the end of my street and pick it up, no windows, bench seats, drivers in blue and white tropical shirts that ring a bell at one another when they pass. You ride it anywhere, to any one of the secluded, summer-crowded beaches here, to any one of the fine little light-dusted flower-draped corners of this town that I am coming to know.
“It’s the cheapest form of entertainment in Laguna, that’s why all the locals do it,” is what a short, muscled man with gray hair and reflective sunglasses said to a group of girls and their one loud, gay friend. I smiled wide, like sunglasses was reading my mind, nodded, said, “It’s true.” My chin on on my folded hand, my elbow propped up on the windowless pane, I was staring out at the green and blue lines of the canyon thinking the very same thing. He’s right, we people watch and keep our opinions to ourselves, thought me the girl nodding at the him the middle-aged man talking about all he knows for the good-looking girls in tow. One on every ride. He told them what there is to do in Laguna, where to pick up the different trolleys to the Sawdust Art Fest, north to the coves or south all the way to Dana Point.
And I rode. Rode with no plan, thinking I’d get off at Legion and go to Sleepy Hollow where I always go, only to lend to the whim instead and let it take me up to Oak, to the coffee shop that roasts their own beans, where I read the local newspaper in the sun. There was a cover story about three of the artists at the Sawdust doing ecologically sound work, two of them I knew. A woman came into the cafe and startled me by saying she stopped outside and took a picture of me through the glass, smiling with my eyes closed, my head tilted up towards the sky, she hoped I didn’t mind. It made me bashful to have a moment witnessed like that, but grateful, too. It’s sweet when you follow that whim and someone else sees it, feels it, too. I left a bit later to cross the street, go to the ocean, swim.
Sometimes the trolley can take a long time so I only take it if that’s what I have to give. I even brought a change to go to church in, in case the wait at the stops was too long and I didn’t have enough time first to go home. But I did.
The whim was in control, the flow. Mass was as good as it was last week, I got so much done after it was over in preparation for school, there is one week left of the trolleys in Laguna. Larry got married over the weekend. I couldn’t make it up there but was with he and Kristina in the heart, the soul. Life moves and sometimes it’s so nice to let it take you where it wants you to go. To feel its larger breathing, to just be a part of that breath. I will miss the trolleys when they go.