Santa Cruz Part 1

Hopefully, this will be a little travel journaling as I visit my son Tuck.

When I arrive somewhere at night it is always disconcerting.

What am I near? Did I choose a good hotel? Where is the beach?

We landed in San Jose and travelled the 14, winding in traffic on a road known for danger. I felt competent in a medium sized rental SUV knowing that I drive down Ponce every day in Atlanta and manage ok.

I’m in Santa Cruz because I miss my boy too much and last year I did not get to see him near enough. My mom and Addy are with me and we are mighty in need of an easy going happy vacation. My mom is been a widow for eight months now and my dad’s birthday is next week. Addy struggles to get away from the pressure she puts on herself to work hard and be tip top. She knows her eating disorder follows her on vacation and maybe even pounces like a tiger while she is out of her usual routine. The true Addy loves to visit and explore and spend time with family. None of us know what to do without Mim. We take planes and elevators with abandon. We eat at loud restaurants and walk blocks and blocks for ice cream. I need this time and I hate to be away from her. We talk about what she would do if she were seeing this or that.

Our Holiday Inn felt like a palace when we arrived much past our bedtimes. I fell asleep quickly on thick white cotton sheets. We cracked the window because Santa Cruz is having this intense power issue. Tuck explained that PG and E has cut power for some places and reduced power in others because of high winds this weekend and the risk of fire. So the hotel AC (which I like to crank) is unavailable.

All night it sounded like we lived above a huge dumpster that was being loaded and unloaded. There was the strange sound of sweeping and the ugly metallic caw of some crows.

I slept anyway. I was tired.

At 7am, Addy started scrolling and the little light of her phone in the fairly dark hotel room made me happy. I don’t live with Addy anymore. Or she doesn’t live with me. And it is so nice to wake up next to her. Knowing that our conversations will be only interrupted by each other and not excavated by a curious Mim.

At the risk of waking Mum, I opened the drapes with those little white poles that hotels provide. We overlook a Dunkin Doughnuts and Burger parking lot. A motorcycle revs a little too long. The crows come to collect doughnut crumbs. The crows come one at a time and they don’t seem to like each other. They eye each other and walk gingerly. They are not good at landing on the asphalt. I guess they were made to land in trees. On the parking lot, they flit their wings a bit and hop clumsily for a few steps before walking suspiciously toward the pile of breakfast.

I watch a police man from my picture window and he uses his phone to take pictures of something underneath our room. I stand and lean over the ineffective AC unit to watch. I’m a champion eavesdropper. A spy. A person is sweeping urgently and with determination. They are using a branch with leaves as a broom. The person is all one oppressive color. A dark dingy gray. The long straggly hair hangs over their face. The hair is all gray. The clothes are all turned gray. The browninsh gray figure moves crouched over ignoring the police man and continuing to sweep. The police man speaks to the person from a distance and leaves with his last words being “Be careful.”

The sweeping continues. This person must have a brain that makes the sweeping compulsive. It isn’t a relaxed sweeping like a grandma on a screened in porch. It is a thrashing movement that frantically arranges the dirt.

The police man walks away and toward a woman pushing a grocery cart. It isn’t full of groceries. They talk for a while. She takes off her cap and they look like they are having a pleasant conversation.

I lean over to watch again. The person finishes dusting the bushes that line his or her corner of the neat parking lot. They use an old gray t-shirt too combat the dirt and dust that lies on the leaves of the bushes. A blue dumpster, not the typical dark blue but a lighter blue, has a pair of Vans resting on top of the hinged door. The person picks up the Vans and bangs them on the roof of the dumpster. Bangs hard. And walks away holding the newish Vans in his hands. He shuffles in between the Dunkin Doughnuts and the Burger place with one Croc on and one filthy sneaker.

This person had a hard night. Sweeping dirt and banging dumpsters.

And I slept on queen size bed over a tidy parking lot.


  1. P J Freeman

    Hope your visit to Santa Cruz is wonderful! There is a good artsy movie theater downtown. Also, Gayle’s Bakery is a must. It is at 504 Bay Avenue in Capitola. Their Princess cake is excellent. Enjoyed your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Tierney

    Have a great time! Sophia is working at Crossroads (on Pacific Ave) on Sunday if you all plan on doing some shopping – she’d LOVE to see Addy!!
    Paula Tierney 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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