When you know you might not be in a place much longer, you start noticing things you’ve taken for granted. The wind in the pines that whips around the corners of your house. The shops on Main Street, housed in buildings from a bygone age and nestled against a crisp, blue springtime sky. Conversations with people who’ve been part of your life for the past few years but who might not be much longer … at least not in person.
I’m noticing such things these days. How long will I be in Cambria? I have no idea. But I figured I’d better do some things I’ve always wanted to do here while I still have the chance. If the Who and Derek Jeter can go on farewell tours, I suppose I can, too, right? I spoke at Mary Anne Anderson's open mic night last Thursday, and I've got a farewell party set for tonight.
I’ve been meaning to take a drive up Old Creek Road between Highway 46 and Cayucos. I’ll probably do that sometime in the next few days. I want to drive some of the other back roads, too. Maybe I’ll pop in for karaoke one last time at San Simeon Beach Bar & Grill if they’re still doing it up there. “Elvis,” who runs the show up there, is always a kick.
Last weekend, on my second official day of unemployment, Samaire and I went to lunch at La Terraza, using up what was left on a gift certificate she got me for my birthday last year. I’d been milking it through three meals, and I figured I’d better use the last of it while I still had the chance. The meal was great, as usual: a chicken tamale, carnitas taco and some flan for desert.
While we were there, we ran into Clive Finchamp, who has sent letters to the Cambrian on a regular basis, but whom I’d never met in person until today. Samaire was taken by a stunning purple outfit worn by Clive’s wife, Sharon, and she said so.
Not knowing who we were, they asked whether we lived in Cambria and what we did. I said, “Until two days ago, I was editor of the newspaper here.”
Recognition dawned, and when they introduced themselves, I recognized them, as well. It’s funny how you can spend three-plus years in a place and never run into someone, then do so two days after you’re out of a job.
When I stopped by the mailbox the other day on Berwick, Aaron Wharton pulled up alongside me in his truck and wished me well. A couple of days before that, Iggy Fedoroff drove up alongside me on Main Street and expressed his appreciation. So many of the people in this town have been so supportive, and I can’t help but feel fortunate at that.
When we stopped in at Linn’s for a bowl of tomato soup, we ran into both owner John Linn and his son, Aaron, both of whom have appeared in the pages of The Cambrian during my tenure. I interviewed John after he told me about an exclusive deal he had to supply preserves and syrups to Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s hard to believe that was three years ago. Columnist Charmaine Coimbra talked to Aaron about his efforts to support youth cycling on the North Coast.
Linn’s is one of my favorite restaurants, and we’ve been there a number of times, but I’d never run into both Aaron and John there at the same time before. As an added bonus, my wife’s favorite waitress, Jordan, took care of us that evening. Synchronicity.
Before we sat down for lunch at La Terraza on Saturday, Samaire and I drove down to Moonstone Beach Drive to visit Art Van Rhyn in his gallery. I’ve worked with Art as The Cambrian cartoonist since I got here, and he’d drop by the office every Monday to deliver the week’s submission and chat for a few minutes. I learned that, before he was an artist, he’d worked as an engineer for Caltrans, and he supplied me with some great material for my book on Highway 99. More synchronicity.
We spent some time talking with Art about his paintings, our lives and what we have in common as artists (his specialty being visual, ours being words). I hadn’t expected to, but I wound up purchasing a painting from him: a stunning springtime view of San Simeon Creek Road bordered by yellow-golden flowers, which you can see at the top of this column. As a lover of old roads and pastoral vistas, I couldn’t resist. Samaire purchased a painting, too, of a Monterey pine. They’ll be perfect remembrances of our time in Cambria, if and when we decide to move on.
(How, you may ask, can an unemployed journalist afford to buy original works of art? I’ll let you in on a secret: Art’s paintings are very reasonably priced. Sometimes, when he sells one, it’s like saying goodbye to one of his children, but he loves to see them find good homes. Make the trip. You won’t be disappointed.)
Now that I’m no longer representing the newspaper, I can do some things I couldn’t do before. I can extol the virtues of my favorite places in town, I can take part in demonstrations for causes I believe in, and I can plant political signs on my front lawn. I can even write books about politics (stay tuned, but no, I won’t be writing about the water plant; I’ve done enough of that already).
Still, I’m running this under the heading Editor’s Notes – the title of my column at The Cambrian – because they’re not replacing me there, so I figure no one else will be using it. I may not be the editor of a newspaper anymore, but I look at it this way: As of this week, I’m managing editor of my own destiny.
I like the sound of that.
(See? I told you I wasn’t going to stop writing!)