Remembering Paradise


Why did I leave Paradise? Well, after Adam and I split the sheets, I couldn’t afford the rent by myself.

Actually, it had nothing to do with Adam. I left Paradise for greener pastures. (Or so I thought at the time.) But a few weeks ago, I returned to my old college town of Santa Barbara after nearly a twenty year absence. I’d forgotten how pleasant life was in Paradise. Strolling the city streets on a warm autumn evening, listening to guitar music wafting from an outdoor café; wandering an uncrowded beach as seals watch from the surf; feasting on fruits and vegetables picked fresh from the garden — it’s not half bad.

But let’s get real — even Paradise has its problems. I remember a few. Things grow well here, maybe too well. Take the humungous avocado tree that loomed over one friend’s tiny bungalow, for instance. We’d pick all the fruit we could reach, but eventually the overripe avos at the top would plummet to the ground. It was dangerous just getting to the front door. We made a helmet for the cat from an empty cottage cheese container but she stubbornly refused to wear it. (She must have had plenty of lives left.) Green slimy goo coated the brick walk until the winter rains finally came. Still, considering how much I love fresh guacamole, I wish I had this nasty avocado problem now.

And what about beach tar? It gets on your shoes, your feet, your swimsuit, your towel, in your hair. (Yuck!) But watching a line of Brown pelicans elegantly surfing the updraft from a breaking wave, while the Channel Islands drift on the horizon, can almost make beach tar inconsequential.

For a few blissful days, I overlooked any trouble in Paradise. I appreciated Santa Barbara more than I had as a college student. Before I left town, I walked along the streets of my old neighborhood, gulping in the scent of jasmine and savoring every colorful bloom, hoarding this sensory candy against the bleak Great Basin winter yet to come. Remembering Paradise still exists might get me through to April.