On Saturday Scuba and I picked up Lex from his dad’s at 9 in the morning and we drove south on Highway 101 and then south on Highway 1 until we got to Monterey. Sometimes driving on 1 scares me so much I feel like I’m having a weird, hard to breathe through, out of body experience. Like I’m driving the car from way up in the air and my arms are just really, really long. Not the part that we take to get to Monterey, that part is all inland and goes past fields and fields of artichokes and strawberries. It’s green and soft and grey and foggy. But if you keep going south on 1, past where we went Saturday, the road is literally on the edge of the land above the sea and there’s nothing but your own attention keeping you up on the road. That’s the part that makes me so very anxious, though the anxiety is shot through with appreciation for the beauty of the place and I know when I’m driving on the perilous parts of the road I’ll be okay if I can keep my cool by focusing on how gorgeous it is.
There are roads like that in Hawaii, too, and I’m really glad that Scuba is the only one allowed to drive the rental car.
Once when I was ten or eleven and my mom’s parents came to visit us, we drove somewhere, probably Big Sur, but maybe it was San Francisco, on Highway 1, and it scared my grandmother so badly she was shaking. It didn’t occur to me then to comfort her by telling her it had the same effect on me. Or maybe it’s just gotten scarier as I’ve gotten older.
But on Saturday we stopped at Monterey, before all the dramatic parts of the road, so instead of quietly hyperventilating at the edge of the map while wishing I could photograph how stunning it all is, I was calmly resting on a blanket on the beach, reading, while Lex and Scuba went diving. Lex is all certified now, thanks to Scuba, who got him to and from lessons one week and to the ocean by 7 a.m. both mornings weekend before last.
They’re like astronauts without space ships when they get into the water. It’s not just that they have to bring their own air and they become kind of weightless; they’re in a totally different world when they are diving and after they’ve been gone awhile, I watch the surface of the water for them to come back to Earth. And they walk out of the surf and up onto the beach, looking very odd. Scuba comes up to the blanket and stands over my legs, dripping cold seawater all over me, like stars.