Summer changes stay the same, passing by again

by John Pixley

The vegan BBQ pulled chicken sandwich wasn’t cutting it. With a small pile of sad gray strings, topped with a dab of barbecue sauce, on a hamburger bun and served with a tomato slice and lettuce, it was small and dry—nothing like the killer, juicy vegan BBQ pulled pork sandwich at Doomie’s in LA.

Maybe I just wasn’t feeling it, but something was different at the Saturn Café. In what had become a habit over the years, I had dinner at Saturn on my first night in Santa Cruz earlier this month. For one thing, the waiter didn’t have a mohawk or any tattoo. And the menu had changed, with a bit less variety and not as much hard-core meatless punk attitude. The dessert menu no longer featured raw chocolate chip cookie dough.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. When a friend first told me about the Saturn Café before I started going there, it was in another location and open 24 hours, and everything about it—the menu, the people—was apparently more adventurous, with tattoos, mohawks and raw chocolate chip cookie dough just for starters. No doubt, some think the Saturn sold out years ago.

I’ll probably go back to the Saturn Café, but I also tried out an Indian restaurant during this time in Santa Cruz, and—damn!—there’s that interesting-looking place I saw last year but located this time only after having dinner at the Indian restaurant on my last night there. I now know it’s called the Surfrider’s Café, and I have something new to try next time. And I now know there’s a great place for breakfast, Bill’s in San Jose, where I always thought there was nothing but hotels that are considerably less expensive than in Santa Cruz. (I also was surprised to discover some lovely, old, Claremont-like, tree-lined neighborhoods in San Jose, but this is the Silicon Valley, after all.)

Of course, it may turn out that the Surfrider’s Café won’t be in Santa Cruz when I next visit. Even as I keep saying it, I have to be reminded again and again, as I was on this trip, that things change.

And isn’t this what a trip is partly about? Isn’t this what a summer adventure is all about? Getting a change? Trying new things?

But even as summer is a time of adventure, of going out on the road, of trying new things, I woke up in the morning a month earlier and clearly, immediately, comfortably knew that the day would be the same as it always has been. It was July 4, another July 4.

Not only was it another July 4. It is July 4, 2013, I thought—no, I felt—as I saw the light streaming in through my bedroom window. It is another July 4 in my life.

It was like what happens on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. It’s Thanksgiving Day, 1995. It’s Christmas Day, 2002. Even when things are new and different, things remain, things are the same.

When I woke up on July 4, I knew there would be a lot going on in Memorial Park again. I knew there would be the parade at 4 and that it would go down Indian Hill and over Harrison, ending up at Larkin Park, again. I knew that, in the evening, I would be going up to Claraboya to see the fireworks and get away from some of their noise again.

When I woke up on July 4, I knew that, even as things were different, even as I was changing, the day had come before and would come again.

I also knew that there would soon be concerts in Memorial Park on Monday evenings and that there was music in the Village on Friday evenings again. And I knew that, as always in the summer, the colleges would be quiet with the students gone, now quiet, verdant places to walk and sit in the cooling evenings (except where there’s construction and camps and conferences going on).

And there were the trips and other adventures, again a part of summer. Some of us were off on long trips to new places, and some were looking forward to going to familiar places or a few day trips to the beach. Some of us went to camp or a gathering, either for the first time or yet again, and some went to classes and learned new things. Some of us just took some time off and enjoyed not having a schedule.

On July 4, as I woke up to another summer’s day again, I looked forward to 2 trips to northern California, both to familiar places and events, eager for whatever new adventures came along on the road. Yes, I would enjoy camping at a music festival again and seeing old friends at a week-long gathering, but I would also enjoy learning about new places to eat and events (an annual street fair in Santa Cruz) and even re-learning stuff (why I don’t like eating at Denny’s). And I knew I would wonder about new adventures to try one day.

Even as we wander and wonder our summer away, we enjoy our afternoons by the pool and evenings at the park, once again. And, once again, even with new schedules and August the new September, the hand-painted orientation signs will be on the buildings at Pomona College any day now.

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