The Los Angeles traffic was August sweaty, driving with my lovely teenage daughter to a couple of auditions. The second audition was at Fox Studios, and we enjoyed just walking around the campus, seeing the various production crews taking their lunch breaks. They have whimsical shrubbery there.
I passed a little “Free Library” that was the size of a large mailbox: leave a book, take a book. Of course I peeked in, and selected a magazine, an anniversary issue of Astronomy magazine – not what I expected. We were planning on the beach for sunset after the second audition, so a magazine would be perfect. Now I’m hoping she gets a callback so I can put a book in next time.
I’ve been here for four months and finally, I was going to be at the beach at sunset. At last! The sun so bright on the water it was hard to look!
School had recently started, and it was a Thursday night, so the beach wasn’t nearly as crowded as we had seen it earlier in the summer. We were about a mile north of the Santa Monica Pier – close enough to see the ferris wheel spinning out its light show, but far enough away not to hear any of the pier sounds. The ocean was calmer than I had seen it too, no surfers out this evening.
My daughter headed over to the cafe to grab us some dinner for the coming sunset show, – salmon burgers, how California. I was left alone to people watch. People-watching at the beach is one of my favorite things! I missed my lifetime people-watching teammates.
Los Angeles is very international, and the three families closest to me were not speaking English: Spanish, perhaps Arabic, and maybe Armenian? The Spanish-speaking family in front of my had three daughters and all seemed to be peacefully enjoying their evening – clinging to the last of the summer. The little one with her wild curls, and the two older one rolling their eyes at each other.
A man was taking pictures of a woman and baby, sitting right at the edge of the surf. A nearby family, unaware, kept getting into their picture and the man kept moving to edge them out and still get the watery bright light.
A little boy, maybe three years old, wandered over by our blanket, no swimsuit, just covered waist down in sand. “Hey” he shouted, I thought to us, but it was back at his family. He grinned when they saw how far he had wandered and waited for them to call “Yusaf!” before returning.
I had brought some books, one in particular from my uncle that I was using for background research for a screenplay I’m planning. It was way too serious reading for the beach. I pulled out the magazine. Just a few pages in, I found a tidbit that informed my research better than anything I could have found in the book. How fortunate that I grabbed it!
The photoshoot mom put her baby right in the surf, and he did not like it at all. And now he seemed too sandy to hold tight, so she headed for deeper water to rinse him off. He did not like this either, being dangled in the cold water, crying as loud as the surf. I watched as she turned her back to the surf, rinsing him with one hand, holding him loosely and not seeing the big wave rising behind, I looked for the photographer dad, readied myself to spring into action and at the last minute she pulled him to her. They both tumbled under the wave, but she came up with him. I watched with her, waiting for the child to cry again. First a watery cough, then a furious wail. The father looked over, not realizing what had just nearly happened. I thought, that kid is going to grow up hating the ocean, and only his mother and I will really know why. I noticed how judgmental I was feeling and looked away.
A young man in British-seeing swim trunks was laying underneath a woman in a turquoise bikini, their equally tattooed skin blurring together as they kissed.
I looked the other way, feeling I had interrupted a private moment, and say five beautiful young men playing a modified football game. Their skin ranged in shades of brown from cinnamon to chocolate, and they were distractingly beautiful. I wished my friend Peggy were here to see them.
And then there goes Yusaf again, wandering by, noticing the big strong men playing football and being captivated. Looking over his shoulder every now and then, Yusaf wandered further from his family, their distraction packing up. Wearing only his sand pants, Yusaf walked right to their sidelines, awestruck. His departing family beckoned, and he crossed right through their play, unharmed. Yusaf is going to be a handful.
And my suntanned daughter returned with our sunset supper. They were out of salmon burgers, these were regular. So we saluted Liz Lemon and watched the sun melt out of the sky. The clouds looked like hovering angels, floating fuschia mermaids.