Over near the fire road from the Top of the World neighborhood to Arch Beach Heights, there’s an outcropping, a knob of rock with a couple of indentations in it, two curved shelves shaped like beanbag chairs, overlooking Laguna and the ocean. Our dog Booker knows the southernmost of these as the Sit Rock.
Patti Jo and I each found it independently while walking him, and we’ve both sat on it often. It’s possible we’re not supposed to — the whole world, after all, is someone’s property — but lots of people have. There are initials, hearts and names carved into the sandstone — or anyway, the sandy stone; I’m not a geologist. Somebody loved Brandon — may still love him. Sarah Bailey was there, or someone who signed herself Sarah Bailey.
If you saw this stone, you’d sit on it too — it practically demands it. And you can’t beat the view.
From it, you look down on the toy homes of Laguna and you get a feeling of ... not omniscience, that means you’re everywhere ... not omnipotence, that means you’re all-powerful ...
I guess the word I’m searching for is height; it gives you a feeling of height. I was relatively short as a boy and I never did get tall. Now I’m at the stage where you start getting shorter. So it’s a treat to find a seat with the whole town at your feet.
You tall people are used to looking down on others, but as I look down imperially from my perch on the Sit Rock, your six feet-plus are as nothing. I can’t quite make you out. I am far above you, alone with my lofty thoughts, puzzling out the great questions:
What makes the left side of my mustache grow faster than the right?
Why, no matter how I experiment with the heating time, does my leftover chicken explode two seconds before the microwave turns off?
I have a few deeper “why” questions, probably the same ones you have. They come to mind while looking at the ocean, as they did when I was a boy in Missouri looking at the Mississippi River. One thing the river and the ocean have in common is a disinclination to provide an answer to any of them.
The Mississippi’s indifference was immortalized in song by Oscar Hammerstein, in his line about how Ol’ Man River must know something but don’t say nothin’. I don’t know of a comparable line about the Pacific, but its attitude seems to be similar.
I’ll go to my urn with my biggest questions unanswered. But it’s nice to pass a contemplative minute on the Sit Rock, passing from one thought to the next ... nice to sit at the edge of a continent and look down on everybody, before getting up and heading home at my actual height.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version will soon be out on DVD.