We have five surfboards, none of which are ours.
Richard and I are storing them for our daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren who fled Los Angeles for France last summer, so the boys could go to school. They are a bi-cultural family — French/American — and they had that fortunate option.
I’ve surfed once, when I was 18 on Oahu. Richard, a champion cricketer and Eton Fives player, has never even thought of surfing.
Every time I open the garage door, I see the surfboards stacked in the rafters waiting for their owners’ return.
Our family returning to L.A., however, is not a given; all depends on when and if schools open.
We keep in touch through Facetime and Marco Polo. We miss them terribly and are thankful they are well, coping and the grandchildren are in school.
The surfboards remind me why we moved to Santa Barbara, a dozen years ago — to be near our newly married daughter, our son in the Bay area and not-yet-married older daughter in Sonoma, for whom we were able to host a wedding under a rose-covered gazebo in our garden. The mild climate, extraordinary medical care and a handful of delightful, caring friends we’ve made have been an unexpected and welcome bonus.
A few days ago, when Richard opened the garage door so I could take out the car to the grocery shop, he saw the surfboards and immediately suggested that we go to the local surf shop and buy me some flip flops.
Richard is an old school Brit. For him to suggest flip flops to his shoe-obsessed wife of almost 50 years, who would rather go barefoot than look “woke,” who insisted he photograph all the ballerina flats in a closed shoe boutique window in Paris, so she could order them when we got home to Manhattan, was nothing less than brilliant! It reminded me that many are also having to think out of their “shoe box” just to survive.
I’ve been streaming Agatha Christie’s “whodunits” from my couch as I must keep off my foot as much as possible. When I have to take the car, I drive barefooted since the foot surgery, hoping not to have to suddenly hit the brake pedal. Richard, who has a heart condition and has been self quarantining since getting out of the hospital after a month’s stay last February, suddenly had to shop.
He had heard depression creeping into my voice as my three mile-a-day walk stopped. He’d witnessed my tears as I painfully put on my right sneaker to go to Trader Joe’s at 8 a.m. to stock up on essentials during the safer time for “oldies.” Richard should no longer drive, but gallantly offered, if I accompanied him.
Buying a pair of chic flip flops in a local surf shop, along with Agatha Christie, has saved my sanity. Why hadn’t I thought of flip flops? Maybe, because for a year, it’s been a challenge to think out of our, but not unique, survival box.
I had thought of entitling this “How Outstanding Medical Care, Flip Flops and Agatha Christie Saved Our Lives.” Then I thought that was too dramatic. No one needs more drama in their lives now, including us.
This particular morning, I counted my blessings. Those blessings include Richard, who carried a gas mask as a child in the U.K., rarely complains and never ceases to amaze me with his logic: Surfers wear flip flops.
One also needs friends in times of stress — like the dear friend who dropped off a copy of Country Life with a story about the famous crimmy author. Apparently, Agatha Christie was one of the first women to surf, back in the 1920s. Who would have guessed?
Calla Jones Corner
The author lives in Montecito.