The thing you don’t know til you live here is the way palm tree leaves look when they bend in the wind. The Santa Ana’s. They’re real. They come sailing down the canyon with whole lists of lusty springtime wants. You hear them ranting and can barely breathe. High white-sun days of Santa Ana wind force a palm leaf bend streaked silver like the color of Christmas tinsel mixed with snow. Like an upside down smile, without the sadness of a frown. Upside down silver frenzy grin. Palm leaves in the hot sun-wind. And then you live here, and the thing is you’re driving PCH salivating over exotic trees one day, because that’s grace: The sudden appreciation of all that is. Silver Christmasy tinsel smiles lined up in wind-bent rows.
You’ve stopped drinking caffeine, you did this months ago because when your godmother died you were so strung out on Red Bull you could go round for round with it up against your single grlfriends at the bar. Except they were losing their inhibitions while your high-wired anxiety from energy drinks just drove the men away. After the lash flash number grab and flirty repartee. Caffeine effects everything, most especially your writing. When you went off it for good it was the slowest part of August, when it’s yellow melt and dust in the canyon and they’re bored shirtless bros everywhere. You didn’t get off the couch for three weeks and finally told your shrink pretty sure I’m depressed. She looked concerned, told you keep up with the resting. It wasn’t til September, after you relapsed on Americanos that weekend with Papa J camping at San Elijo that you realize. Oh shit, that was my coming off period. All those slow-coming understandings, reflections, quiet stillness. All those sighs of grace. That was all from going off 20 years of caffeine! So you’re in to it these days, things that slow your flow.
Grace. If you’re lucky, it slows your flow. But then what’s luck, other than grace? Willingness maybe? Willingness to see? The sudden shift of the eye, to catch the sun on the mountains, how the light and comfy green roll roll roll bump bump bump together like a skateboard over cement seams. Or maybe, the willingness to appreciate it. That could be luck. A funny sort of preparation. The willingness to meet grace half way.
And grace? That thing that cleans the eyes, so you can see.