Haven’t seen any birds today, or at least, none that I remember, my only opportunity for them so far being the ten minutes of urban sidewalk I took between the roof I awoke under and the roof I’m under now, at the coffee shop. I’m sure there were some out there, but they didn’t happen to cross my path. Or, I’m sure some crossed my path, but I didn’t notice when they did. And you know why I didn’t notice them? Because birds operate within a wide bandwidth. When a dog crosses your path, you know it, because it’s right there at your feet. But when a bird crosses your path, it could be right at your feet, or, it could be right above your head. And above the head is a lot of ground for a guy to cover. I’m just trying to get down the street. I’m not here to crane my neck. I just woke up. I poured a bowl of cereal but then forgot to pour milk over it and then left my apartment only to remember that uneaten bowl when I was halfway down my stairs. Then I ate a croissant where I am now, but had I remembered the cereal, I wouldn’t’ve had to. But I guess what I’m saying Roger is that birds can be difficult to notice when you have other things on your mind. Even if birds themselves are exactly that other thing that has you preoccupied.
I’ve had birds on my mind for about a day now. Yesterday, at the beach, with a number of Troplitzers, including K. and Hutton and Stephan, in North LA County, more fashionably known as Malibu, watching the waves roll in, Zuma Beach, watching B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, and a Vladimir Putin lookalike walk by, watching the “cash roll in,” I saw plenty of birds. I saw a lady spring up off her towel to shake her fist at some gulls. I saw Stephan toss a Frisbee at a garbage can to shake the gulls off of it so he could throw out his Diet Coke. And then I saw a dead one by a creek, a creek that didn’t have enough water to make its way over the sand to the ocean, and instead got caught at the sand hump, pooled up, and I guess just seeped. But Stephan took a picture of that dead one, and I’m sure he’s going to show it to you soon.
When we’d arrived, around two, the sun was shining, but there was a slight breeze, and it wasn’t exactly a natural move to strip down to our suits. California beaches are like this. The weather here is ideal for sitting outside, in your backyard or on a sidewalk. But when it comes to activities that historically require high heat—the beach, iced tea—we’re not really all the way there. I haven’t hit that point in the calendar like I did in Milledgeville, when I switched from hot chai at Metropolis to iced tea at Blackbird. Here, you can go chai all year. Because it’s warm, but not too warm. Not warm enough to make hot tea offensive. But, the beach being the beach, we stripped our clothes anyway, and hunkered down on our towels, for about five minutes, until the girls began talking, and Stephan and I began kicking the soccer ball, and once we got to running and lunging, the weather was fine.
Tom Dibblee is Trop’s editor. His fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and his nonfiction has appeared in Pacific Standard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Point. He lives in Los Angeles.