Summer of ’89

Posted: January 7, 2009 in Lessons

Driving down the winding PCH reminds me of Scott.

We are nineteen years old, it is after midnight, and we are three thousand miles and a full lifetime away from here. Highway 1 that winds along the Atlantic Ocean in Cocoa Beach is lonely, and we are in Scott’s Firebird taking in the sights on both sides of the road, our heads going back and forth like we’re at a tennis match. I’m blabbering on about something when suddenly I’m told to shut up so we can listen to the police scanner. It was simply a cop pulling over someone driving erratically, but since that someone was us Scott was rather interested. The officer was friendly, mostly because Scott was wearing his police academy t-shirt, but also because he was only driving like he was tipsy. But how else should a nineteen year old guy drive down a beach highway after midnight a thousand miles and a world away from small town Arkansas?

Or, say, a thirty-eight year old guy in Malibu?

I often wonder what I’m doing here living among the movie stars and uber-wealthy. I’m well aware I don’t belong. We buy groceries where celebrities buy groceries and fill our gas tanks where the rich and famous fill their gas tanks. Our daughter goes to school at Malibu High with the children of people who aren’t “connected” – they are the people folks hope to be connected to. This is the place we now call home. And what we have to look at each day – well, it’s no surprise that the important people of the world choose to live here. The combination of the beach, the mountains, and the weather is simply indescribable. That it takes $4,000/month to rent a basic apartment in Malibu really a pretty good deal all things considered.

Oh, I’m old enough to know that people are just people. These folks are just like me, right? It’s just that they have lots of money, and I don’t. And that they are beautiful. And tanned. And well-dressed. And have travelled the world. And cultured. Come to think of it, they aren’t much like me at all.

Many of the people I encounter seem to belong here, or they pretend very well. On the Pepperdine campus, it’s either someone’s superior intellect, their family fortune, or that they grew up as Californians that bespeaks this deserving status. They are on their turf. But I am not. I’m just the son of a butcher from Arkansas. I really have no business being here.

Except that I was friends with Scott.

There I am, nineteen years old again. It really was a full lifetime ago now. We’re driving down that Florida beach highway, wide-eyed, drinking it all in, a guy crazy enough to go live in it (Scott), and a guy lucky enough to be asked to tag along (me). And although I didn’t know it at the time, Scott was teaching me to live adventurously.

I hope I don’t ever fit in here. Or anywhere. Fitting in sucks the adventure right out. It’s a lonely feeling at times, but all in all, it’s a fair trade-off.

I think I might go for a drive down the PCH in Malibu today and think about Scott. He’s been dead for years now, but he’s never very far away. Only I have to do the driving now.

  1. destintodd says:

    Hey Al,

    I think that I would’ve liked your friend Scott! Awesome story! BTW congrats on finishing your 1st semester. I know you must be loving the break. I tell ya, Malibu sounds like my kind of place; not just because of all the celebs; but the scenery, surroundings, locale (the whole package is cool.)

    It was really nice seeing your “girls” over the Christmas break! What a great surprise.

    Take care and I’ll call you soon.


  2. terryaustin says:

    A much better story than the time you & Scott made me kick the volleyball and shatter the light in the gym.

  3. alsturgeon says:

    Hey, Todd! Yeah, I think it is your kind of place! Erica has really been enjoying it this week, too, which has been fun for me as well. And you would have loved Scott – he was a lot of fun.

    And, Terry, that was a great story, too! I remember you saying that you looked toward us expecting us to say we need to go tell someone and we were already sprinting to the locker room to hide! 🙂

  4. J D says:

    I do not leave as many responses as I should, but I continue to enjoy reading after your Malibu adventure. I miss seeing you … but I’m really happy for you and your family. There’s always room for another good lawyer in Monroe, Louisiana when you’re through!

  5. alsturgeon says:

    Thanks, John. I feel the exact same way about you.

    Do they need any so-so lawyers in Monroe?

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