This year I celebrated NYE in San Luis Obispo, a town I would describe as the imaginable offspring of Santa Barbara and Portland, could two cities actually have sex and procreate. Never having been before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To be honest, I didn’t even know where it was. I knew it was in California, obviously, but, I thought it was Northern as opposed to Central, and inland as opposed to coastal. The truth is, the only time I can properly grasp geography is when I’m actually traveling within it. Kinda like Joey in that episode of Friends; the one where he has to stand on the paper map in order to find the direction of Westminster Abbey. I suspect that may have been the inspiration for the “current location” feature in the iPhone, which, outside of physical experience, is the only other way to solve the mystery of where I am in the world.
Our brief trip consisted of a mere two days, one in which, was spent outdoors, hiking along a trail at Montana de Oro State Park. Despite the fact they were prohibited, we brought our two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Phinn and Murphy, with us. It’s my personal belief that wherever a human can go, so too can a canine. They make people happier, kinder to one another, and less invisible to a stranger. Seriously, have you ever noticed how, when driving a car, one is more considerate of stopping their vehicle further away from a crosswalk if there’s a dog in it, as opposed to only people? I’m so much more concerned about hitting a dog than a person without one - and I know I’m not the only one.
It was Phinn’s first time at the beach, and I was surprised to see him take better to the ocean than his baths - completely opposite of me. Call me crazy but, I prefer warm, clear, water that’s contained in a controlled enviornment - to each his own. Murphy had a ball in his mouth the entire time, suffice it to say that, even if he had been drowning in a wave that swallowed him, he enjoyed himself. However, the top of the cliffs was where things got a little rockier - pun most likely intended as, by now, they’re definitely a subconscious habit.
Murphy, weary of getting too close to the edge, often laid down, clinging to the dirt beneath him. When I later picked him up to see what we crazy humans we’re gazing down at, he cried incessantly. I thought he’d like to witness something most dogs never get to in their lifetime, but, he was too fixated on our altitude, and the giant waves crashing into the jagged rocks beneath us, to appreciate it. I suppose he thought I’d like to witness something most humans rarely get to experience in their lifetime; mortality. Phinn’s crying began once my boyfriend started his decent down the cliffs, to take a photo. I assumed my youngest pup was as embarrassed as I was, to see the man he looked up to so eager to share this particular moment with all his Instagram followers. I thought about informing him of how many accidental deaths were caused by selfies in 2015 but, I realized it was 2016, and he was using the back lens.
That evening we visited the famous Madonna Inn, sharing a slice of Champagne cake after finishing dinner. If I’m being honest, I wish we’d each gotten our own, or just had the cake for dinner. And dessert. And maybe even for breakfast the next morning. That was the most incredible confection I’ve ever consumed, and the most conflicted I’ve ever been about lending sugar to my neighbor. Perhaps the medicinal marijuana I’d smoked beforehand was partially to blame but, then too was my migraine, which, made the medicinal marijuana a necessity to begin with.
The trip finished out with stops at a local winery, gum alley, and the Pismo beach pier, where we engaged in living out a cliche; watching the sun disappear underneath the horizon while holding hands together on a bench. I could feel the judgement radiating outward, not only from myself as I hovered above, outside of my body, observing, but from onlookers like this guy.
As he tilted his head from side to side, it occured to me what was most likely going through his mind, courtesy of Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo, "Mine." I determined he was probably just jealous. But, so too was I, for he had the freedom to fly into that very sunset we sat in front of, and every single one after.