List: Seven weeks in Long Beach, California, 2009

Belmont Shore. Snug green lawns just mown. Flowers large and small. Succulents. Fragrant. The jogger who said hello even though he was panting. Everyone out for a walk or run says hello. Hoodies. People waiting for the Walk sign before crossing the street, even when it’s a small one-way street and there are no cars in sight. Vintage cars. The marine layer that takes all morning to burn off. Hibiscus and honeysuckle. At Last Café. Sweetwater Tavern. $1.10 to ride the Passport. Strawberries from the farmers’ market. Spanish-tile roofs. Playing ball near the beach with Dottie. Ripples. Olive’s. Pints of ice cream from Rite Aid. Late-night steaks and martinis with Hampton at the Dresden in L.A. Driving on many freeways with the windows open, wind whipping through the car.

Puerto Vallarta with Danny. Tequila with lots of juicy limes, fresh fruit in the morning, old movies on the TV at night, walking through the town on a steamy day, lots of friendly people, looking for Converse because I didn't bring my sneakers, wonderful Juan at the front desk of our disappointing hotel, choppy and fast and excellent boat ride to Chalapa, discovering the beach can be boring, returning home to a happy Dottie.

Joshua Tree. Rattler Ranch, Pappy & Harriet’s, strawberry-rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream, country band, loners, cowboy gear, liquor stores, carpet of stars, Joshua Tree State Park open all night, that guy named Bingo at the Pioneertown Motel.

Santa Barbara. Immaculate, groomed, flowers everywhere, brilliant sunshine, glittering water, so many people riding bikes, lunch at a sunny spot on Stearn's Wharf. Huntington Beach: caramel-colored sand, gusty winds, sand misting the air, dog beach, dramatic surf, Dave’s Other Place dive bar in Seal Beach with the life-size poster of Clint Eastwood in the ladies’ room, the guy there who had shiny bumps on the bridge of his nose and asked me for a dollar for the jukebox.

Back in Long Beach. Grilling steaks. Drinking Bombay Sapphires with soda and lots of fresh lime. Saying goodbye-for-now to Danny.