This Water Baby Is Raising Her Standards

I’ve always been drawn to water.  I spent one summer going to Manhattan Beach every single day.  The water was so clear, I was able to stand and see a piece of chert that was practically glowing at my feet.  I still have it.  I loved Bolsa Chica for the fire-pits, but it can only be fun if you bring really good water shoes. Those seashells and pebbles have carved into my tender feet for years.  Huntington Beach has fire pits and you can avoid the rocks and watch the surfers. I loved to watch the surfers. There should be surfer watching soon. There’s a dog beach between the two where frolicking dogs will chase balls in the water and you can almost taste the love between them and their humans. It’s like cherry pie before I had to cut wheat from my diet and I took flaky pie crust for granted. There are beautiful cliffs in Malibu and huge pockets that haven’t had sand added to them, making the shoreline natural and beautiful. Dockweiler Beach has fire-pits and you can watch the airplanes fly overhead as they launch then bank over the ocean later at night. I love the ocean for how small it makes me feel.  I love being pushed and pulled by the waves, only to escape by diving into them and becoming part of the churning that would force its will otherwise. I love beaches with tide pools.  There’s one in San Pedro but I don’t think I can go there without remembering the boy that helped me pick out sea urchins and starfish with lots of laughter and splashing. He was so tender with my scraped hands and knees. We held hands and he walked with me around the Friendship Bell and packed a lunch so we could picnic on the grass. We hugged and laughed as we looked at the ocean.  I want to leave that memory untarnished. It was a good one. I’ve been meaning to check out Crystal Cove instead.  For years I said I wanted to go to Black’s Beach just because it is a nude beach.  I haven’t made it and I haven’t made plans either.

In the last 16 years, I’ve spent less time at the beach and more time in rivers, pools, Jacuzzi tubs and lakes.  Part of that was my husband likes rivers and lakes.  We spent so much time fishing in them.  I’m not a fan of the gear and I don’t like much outside of reeling in a fish, so I don’t see myself going fishing anytime soon.  A lot of the rocks around my pond were from trips to Upper Big Tujunga where he and the boys fished, and I carried bags of rocks back to the car. Pier fishing is what I did with my Dad and the few times I tried to go deep sea fishing, I got sick as soon as the boat stopped going forward.  I like boats, but staying still and rocking on the waves instead of being part of the waves always made me sick.  It took a summer to get used to the smaller waves on Big Bear Lake. My other reason for not liking big scary bodies of water is my kids.  My now 9 year old who was 8 months at the time suffered a near drowning.  Pulling him out of the tub when he was blue was traumatic for me.  I had nightmares for a while. To this day, I still panic whenever they want to go into water and I feel like I can’t keep a hand on all three at the same time. I prefer to not go and let my Mom take them because she loves water as much as I do.

There’s a pond in my front yard that I enjoy from my front porch. I dug into hard ground with the help of my father in law.  It has a waterfall and it’s all pre-formed pond liners, but I love the sound, if not the look. I love the reflected light dancing on walls and ceilings from the moving water outside my window. There’s a koi fish in it.  This koi has survived for years with rain water and water hose refills when the water gets low and not a drop of treatment to balance the pH or de-chlorinate, and a pump that goes out from time to time and not a drop of food in years.  He’s outlived the tadpoles that spent about a year becoming bullfrogs and then disappeared over a winter to emerge and disappear again. My cat is a murderer and she’s granted him clemency. She prefers lizards, birds, and rodents. He’s as stubborn about giving up as I am.

Last night I was home around 7:00.  I had an interview with a temp agency and puttered around Hollywood long enough to be happy to head home. I had taken off my slacks, and blouse and I was already in bed calling it a night with Hulu and Facebook.  I finally listened to the lyrics to kid3’s favorite song.  There was a petite brunette singing a cover rendition and I thought I’d finally hear the whole thing.  I don’t listen to much radio and I saw that the original is his Dad’s favorite artist.  He’s a Belieber. It occurred to me that my little one has been singing the song in his Daddy’s heart and it made me angry. For the record, I had many moments of choosing to like his Momma too, and it wasn’t easy. I knew she didn’t like me no matter how many times they tried to say otherwise.  I chose to accept her as part of him. To know me is to know I give people more chances than they deserve.  Something about that song got under my skin like an itch and I got dressed and went for a drive.  I took Broadway through Chinatown and onto Sunset to Pacific Coast Highway and turned left. I called a really great friend on the way.

I’ve known this friend since we were in diapers and my firstborn’s middle name was chosen based on the name I called on for much of my life.  When we were young, he was called Peanut Butter and I was Jelly according to the older neighborhood kids and our siblings.  It was as much about our complexions as it was about our conjoined hips. We were always hanging out around the neighborhood in East Hollywood where I broke my leg and a week later he broke his arm.  He ended up in a hospital bed at Kaiser on Sunset and a while later I ended up in the same bed in pediatrics.  He was there through every single romance I’ve had, and the distance only came with my husband.  I was starting life with a husband and kids.  He still goes to bars and clubs and lives the life I used to live. He’s one of those friends that I can pick up with at any time and it’s like there was no time or distance between us.  In our friendship there is freedom and I was able to rage and curse out a man I had been trying to be respectful toward. I discuss my anger at times.  I’m still protecting him in not disclosing some of his actions to most people. My anger is part of me and I’m not afraid of it. You just won’t usually hear me emasculating him.  It’s a choice, and I try to choose it more often than not.  That doesn’t mean I’m incapable. That means my impulse control is strong on most days.  Not last night.  It was the first time I’ve ever cursed him out (even if not to his face),  the entire time I’ve known him.

It was early enough that when I made a left on Temescal Canyon Road, I could still legally park there, but it was dark, so you won’t get pictures.  There are street lights but the beach itself is cloaked in darkness. In the distance, the Ferris wheel that spins above the waters off Santa Monica Beach is visible and tells me where the freeway is. The light of the moon and the many stars I could see were enough to see and step confidently.  I felt comforted in the blanketed darkness clothing the sand and sea. It colored the horizon in shades of indigo night. The gate leading to the parking lot at Will Rogers State Beach had already been closed with yellow metal that clearly denies access and the parking lot only held one car, as it’s companion left when I was stepping onto the sand. Lifeguard tower 8 was where I spent many nights through high school and until I met my husband.  I’ve sat there with guys that played guitar, and with a strong drink to fight the biting air and sea mist. I’ve been there in groups and alone.  I’ve raged at the heartbreaks that were raging through me because the ocean could absorb the sounds of my anguish. I celebrated moments of solitude where my introverted side could recharge.  I shared my spot with the boys that were like my brothers. I was still on the phone with the Peanut Butter to my Jelly while he was at work but otherwise, I was completely alone. He told me about the many girls he had taken there, and I was shocked that I never thought to do the things he did because my comfort was more important.  There’s only one way up or down on that ramp and it’s pretty exposed.  This was probably the first time I was there without a pocket knife or a stun gun, not that I ever needed to confront anyone. Besides, beach sex is overrated and it’s always cold at night.

This was a frequent filming location for Bay Watch.  When I arrived, I could see signs for a crew that will be there or already was there. Location scouts love this place. On the left are volleyball courts with nets swaying in the wind.  To the right there’s a jetty that marks the sand, stepping into the ocean and breaking the harshest waves with immovable fortitude. This tower is unique in that it’s built on a concrete platform that holds a large drainpipe and carries you over the water.  I’ve only ever been there at night and farther from low-tide, but recognized my favorite place on an episode once. The waves break against the platform and flow all around the tower.  There’s a fence around it, but only to keep people from jumping off of the platform because people aren’t always smarter than they look.  The tower isn’t restricted except the closed windows padlocked to keep people outside.

We talked as the crashing waves calmed me.  We talked as they energized me.  By the time I was driving home, my mood had significantly picked up and my anger was gone.  As we talked, we discussed each man child I claimed in my heart.  He pointed out what he saw and through that I could see my perspective shifting and sharpening.  He felt I could have done better than every single one of them.  In looks, in intelligence, in personality, in self esteem, I was the dominant one.  He said every relationship has an imbalance, and I was always on the upper hand but never saw or acknowledged it.  I fixated on their one good quality.  For one boy it was his hair.  For another it was his voice.  For another it was his face.  For another it was how much he wanted me. I could go on but the point was he could see I had a type.  I always thought it was fair skin and great hair, but not all of them fit that bill.  Most of them didn’t. He said I like the ones that are a little geeky and not too smart.  He could see something about each one of them that was lacking in some way. I told him about my crush and he pointed out that I was sabotaging myself even though I claim to want to date smarter people. I could see myself having a conversation with him without having to explain what I’ve said.  He reminded me that they all kind of grew on me because they weren’t immediate total packages.  I walked past the obvious winners and plucked my way through the second string, subconsciously identifying their insecurities and then letting them  shape their fears into who I was, effectively shifting the power dynamic.  The exception was the guy I was with through the end of high school.  He was an ex-gang member, but I pursued him with his New York accent, and six pack abs, and his hooked nose.  He wasn’t eye candy, but he was sweet and generous. He was always bringing me flowers. He wasn’t the total package and I have no interest in looking him up, but I do like who I was when I was with him for the most part.  He didn’t have that innate ability to lead though.  I value that now when I couldn’t understand it then.

With each breakup, I became more of the person my great friend grew up with. He sees me as someone that tells it like it is.  I see it as jaded cynicism. I’m someone that is positive and optimistic for the most part.  I believe in faking it until I feel it.  My perseverance and tenacity are hot in others and an asset to myself. He likes this person as she is. I like this person as I am.  I like the boys that are shy and a little insecure.  I like the ones that need my attention that are willing to make it a point to make the first move. I find it sweet and he pointed out that it’s the mother in me that needs to bring that shyness out. It always backfires and  I build them up into pricks. Or I’ll date someone with such strong attachment issues that they need to prove they can make a conquest of anyone without being able to move into a relationship because they lack emotional maturity. We talked about the fact that I haven’t kissed anyone besides my husband since April of 2000.  He tells me it will be epic when I do.

I started thinking about some of the things my husband has said the past year and the song that our little one was singing made more sense.  I realized he had been speaking to me the lyrics of this song, and it made me think of the many conversations we had when I was teased about my vocabulary.  To this day, I will find myself changing the vernacular in my writing so it is easily digested, but I shouldn’t have to do that when I talk.  And this song that made me want to emasculate and infantilize him also made me feel pity because I could hear his insecurities in the song. I could sing the same song to him, but I have a better grasp of my feelings than that and would rather focus on what will lift me up.

I went to bed and the rage in me had died and it was replaced with hope.  There was hope that I would find enough value in myself to intentionally try to approach that man that could be out of my league.  There’s hope that I could find someone to have meaningful conversations with. I want a salt of the earth, man’s man. I kissed a couple of girls in my youth and it did nothing for me but make me miss the bite of stubble. I love a clean shaved face and solid jaw line. I like to be the soft one next to lean muscle. I want someone with the self esteem and drive that pushed him away from drugs or gang life, and made him try harder so his success was in his accomplishments. I’ve only ever had two ex lovers that weren’t into drugs or gang life. They were always looking for attention and couldn’t understand the value of silent companionship. They couldn’t commit to one person, even if it wasn’t me. It’s not about money or looks.  It never was.  I remember being in my twenties and flirting with the guy in the car next to me. It was a red convertible. We exchanged numbers and when he called I told him I couldn’t date him because all I remembered was his car and I couldn’t be that person.  He respected my honesty, and the part of me that couldn’t do that is still alive and kicking. She calls me a whore when I can’t see past the frosting on the cake and that makes me keep walking. My husband thought I only wanted him for his money, but I wanted him for the way he saw me. I just didn’t notice when he stopped looking at me that way.   The one amazing thing my really great friend pointed out was that I gave my husband 16 years of faithfulness and he messed up by leaving a good wife. He left me and I waited beyond what was reasonable and I have done enough.  Telling a wife and mother she’s done enough is one thing, but getting her to finally believe it is another.  We talked about an hour and a half and at the end of that time, I believed it.

We also talked about the times we were young and being silly.  We laughed about the many times I said I’d be an old lady with a cane, and chasing boys. We talked about walking into the Palace in Hollywood at the end of the night.  We were pretty drunk and one of the guys we were with walked right into the glass doors, opened them and went right in as if he didn’t just greet the door with his nose.  The security guards didn’t bother to stop us. It also closed within the 15 minutes we were there.  There was another night we had gone to a hotel in the valley to go dancing with my Dad.  They played Israeli music and songs in Arabic. Some of the older women taught me to move like a belly dancer.  It’s where I heard my first Alabina song and this was before Shakira in the late 1990’s. I used to go dancing with Dad on Saturday nights and this was the one time I brought friends.  We got a bit sauced and when my Dad went home, we decided to go to Rosarito because we had never been to Papas and Beer.  I took the backseat of my car and he drove us into Tijuana and further south into Rosarito.  We pointed at each “alto” sign and laughed because they looked a lot like stop signs.  It’s never taken much to make me laugh. We got there at 4 in the morning and it was closed. Everything was closed at 4 in the morning.  We drove around a bit and watched the sunrise.  Instead of hanging out all day, we headed home and had a tire blow out on the freeway (my  first of more than I can remember). It was an epic adventure. I’ve still never been inside of Papas and Beer. We talked about the time we went hiking to the waterfall from Chantry Flats in the mountains above the Santa Anita racetrack with a bottle of Tequila Rose and the guys going for a swim in the freezing water.  There’s something funny that happens when cold water gets past boxers and I can still hear the squeals in that memory. He reminded me of the fun I had as an adolescent when I wasn’t handing my heart off. I needed that.

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One thought on “This Water Baby Is Raising Her Standards

  1. Pingback: What you are telling me is . . . – Crushing the Chrysalis

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