Bad Paul, the yucca and other randomness

Jeff and I tried to commit slow painful suicide yesterday by hiking Romero Canyon so I could see the yucca. I was afraid I had missed the yucca this year, not having hiked the hills in the last couple of months. Romero Canyon is a beautiful hike with 180 degrees of Pacific and the Montecito mansions on its edge. And the yucca was gorgeous as usual but next year I may just look at the pictures instead because there are moments going up that mountain that I really think I may not see my family again. We have been trying, and miserably failing, to eat at home the last few days. Today we hit La Superica, a taco stand on the authentic side that was beloved and promoted by Julia Child. As a result, the clientele is an interesting mix of working class Mexicans and seriously white people in Ralph Lauren. I love looking in the window where the cooks are. There are just people hard at work amongst piles of green peppers, meat, tortilla dough and a lot of smoke. You put your money in the window at one end of the kitchen and deliciousness appears out of all that mess at the other end.Then somehow at dinner we ended up at Sharkeez with friends currently in town. Sharkeez was all gussied up for the fourth of July, the disco ball lost in sea of red, white and blue. Here are a couple of bad camera phone photos, first of the decor and then of Jeff, sleepily mesmerized by it all.

Speaking of family I may not see again…

Between Jeff and me we have two brothers named Paul. Good Paul (responsible, charming and Ivy League educated) is Jeff's. Bad Paul (borrows money and then skips town without calling) is mine. Recently Bad Paul sent me an e-mail out of the blue giving me dubious details of his life and mentioning that he hasn't heard from anyone in the family for a while. He has complained to me about this before, as if he doesn't remember that he sometimes disappears for a year at a time without calling or writing anyone. It makes me wonder, optimistically perhaps, if Bad Paul has two personalities or is being abducted by aliens for several months at a stretch. Or that he's a secret agent. These are the only reasons I can think of for his absences to be okay. In all likelihood however, Bad Paul is a fuck-up, which, coming from me, is really, really saying something.

The funny thing is that Bad Paul was a great big brother when he was at home. Besides being able to draw very well and play a variety of musical instruments, he taught me how to play chess when I was six, which I will always be grateful for. He never yelled at me or did anything mean that I remember. And we never fought about what to watch. Either he was very accommodating or just has great taste in TV. Anyway, I suspect that we've crossed some point of no return and all I can really hope for in the future is a moment or two of family connectivity at some unforeseen time when events throw us together because I really don't know what to do to fix this. In the meantime, this is one of my favorite pictures of my brother, circa 1982.

(I will write him back anyway….)

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