Dangerous Compassions

a day in Santa Barbara

Today I spent with my best friend E. We went swimming at Santa Claus Lane beach–it was my first time there. She likes it because there’s clean sand, few bugs, enough people. (Near E’s home there’s a beach that’s always deserted–this makes her feel unsafe.) It was my first swim in quite a long time. I got sunburned on my back. I should have kept my shirt on–oh well. Swimming was great. I got smacked around a bit. I liked to be in the water. I wasn’t cold at all. But E got so cold her toes were numb, and we didn’t swim for long. I was prepared to swim for hours, but it didn’t work out that way–probably for the best.

Then we went to the Santa Barbara Mission because I wanted to look at prayer cards at their gift shop. It took us a while to find them–the gift shop occupies three rooms, and I missed one of the rooms at first. There were tons of beautiful prayer cards, but none were quite what I had in mind. I wanted a Virgin of Guadalupe one, laminated. But I liked looking at them, and looking at the medals and pocket statues.

Then we went to the small college I attended as an undergrad, the College of Creative Studies, which is within UCSB. We ran into a lit teacher E used to be close to–I never took any classes from her, but she knew my name. It felt good to be recognized. We toured the building, and the Old Little Theater. We looked at some art. In the gallery was a show being torn down before our eyes. We looked at the paintings even as the art teacher (who I knew by name, but I never took any classes from him) removed them.

It was really emotional for me, being there again. E and I visit CCS every few years. It’s a place I dream about over and over again, frustrated dreams of trying to see my old teachers. It was strange to visit there in waking life, strange but good.

Then E and I went to the Isla Vista Co-op so I could buy hippie toothpaste. (Erik and I like toothpaste without flouride. I forgot ours at home.) I don’t think I had ever been there before. I really like co-ops: they make me happy. This one seemed small. I noticed that the checker’s way of speaking was just like mine, similar lilt. I must have a Santa Barbara accent.

Then we were going to return to E’s place to clean up post-swim, but E’s parents have a rule of no guests over during their dinner time. What a pain in the ass. So instead of going home to clean up, we went straight to dinner. We went to Spice Avenue, Indian food on State St. Dinner was super expensive because nothing’s included–have to buy rice and naan separately.

By the time we got back to E’s place, it was 7. We were exhausted. We talked quietly for an hour, and then it was 8, the time Erik and I had set for him to pick me up. I spent 10 hours with E, and it felt like less. It felt like about three or four. Again, I find myself asking where the time goes.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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