Linda was usually great fun to be around, always positive and often hilarious. She had a deep, infectious laugh and found humor in situations that would annoy or vex most people. It was often difficult to tell when Linda was in an "altered" state because she handled it well, but if you looked closely, you’d notice the signs: the somewhat heavy eyelids, the slight bobbing up and down of her head as though she was listening to some song that the rest of us couldn’t hear, and the glazed, unfocused look in her eyes. Still, she could party pretty darn hardy and would drink most people under the table.
Linda should have been a flower child of the 60s but was born about a decade too late. Would it surprise you to learn she drove a VW bus? No, there were no flowers painted on the side of the bus, but only because she preferred to expend her creativity on her spit-and-ink drawings.
The photo in my last post was taken one winter day when she and I took time off work and drove over the hill to Santa Cruz to wander around the Boardwalk. Because it was a weekday in the off season, most of the rides were closed, but we had fun anyway, walking up and down and eating Boardwalk junk food. The arcade was open, and we played a few pinball games and had our fortunes told by the mechanical fortune teller.
Our experience driving over the hill and back that day was one of mixed fear and hilarity. With each rise of the mountain, Linda’s VW bus would slow to a crawl, and once we crested each rise, Linda would push the gas pedal to the floor in hopes of building up enough speed to get us over the next hill. As cars would whip past us on the uphill inclines, we’d smile and wave--when we weren't busy urging and encouraging the bus onward. If you’ve ever driven Highway 17 from San Jose to Santa Cruz, you know that the road is not only steep at places but also curvy. As we went around the first large curve, the seat I occupied tipped over, and I tumbled onto the floor. Linda laughed that deep, rich laugh of hers, and I joined in, trying to right the seat between bouts of giggles. During the rest of the drive to Santa Cruz and back, I kept a tight hold on anything stable enough to keep me upright.
We came home that night, worn out by the sun and wind at the beach, the uncertain drive back, and the nearly constant laughter. Yes, spending a day with Linda was a real adventure. One always had the sense that anything could and probably would happen. Inhibitions were relaxed and the thought of maintaining any kind of decorum was fleeting at best.
Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the office Christmas party that year.