Santa Cruz is like no place I’ve been in California.
Technically I Had been “there” before. Returning from my first writerhead retreat in the Bird streets and Laurel Canyon in 2019 to where I was basecamped in Sausalito.
I had holed up in a bungalow near the uber touristy Santa Cruz wharf for 72 hours, walking the boardwalk before it opened in a writerhead daze of words and imagery and then working on my first attempt at a spec screenplay like a fiend. There was no other impression of SC as a town but that creative dirge and pinging bells in the background of my mind.
Beyond the tribal arthead glee triggered by occasional tales of territorial surfers in Santa Cruz whupping insolent ass coming for their waves and awe-drenched whispers about the ecological glory of UCSC’s campus there was almost Nothing on the wanderlust grid. & Surf angles belong to something down the line Globalboho-wise. But the place kept needling me.
Only in 2021 when I mentioned the weird (even for me) pull I was feeling about the area while in Venice was I regaled by the old heads who’ve stuck it out down there through covid.
The plumb line revealed itself.
“It’s the one spot outside of here that feels as…I feel as right there as I do here.”
“Fuckin’ love Santa Cruz- those motherfuckers get it.”
” Whether I’m on the beach or up in the trees I can actually relax up there.”
“Oh! Your wanderlusty ass? You’re gonna love it!”
“I’d never leave here, but if I was going to it’d be to move to there. “
“You’ll get it.”
…and I have to say~ all that post-covid preamble made me nervous. That’s a lot of talk for a place that it takes work to reach sans vehicle to have in this globalboho thing after no other real official noise for years.
There was one other ‘tell’ seen in hindsight. The nomadic hotel crew Outsite has had a few locations up in the area since like 2018… but with no fanfare. & they were Always booked solid.
But that chunk of coast made it clear this spring that my presence was bluntly being requested in the NOW… and that it had nothing to do with bells, whistles or cotton candy.
My Globalboho back to basics on the road bacchanal began with a request to check out Soquel, California in May, then Capitola, California, two towns to the south of Santa Cruz proper that were so experientially rich that they changed the course of this globalboho project with their own tales to tell.
But after running wild in wine country all June & July the spirit of Santa Cruz herself said “Come” at the top of August.
I obeyed…and she sat me up on the Mission plateau to get a bird’s eye view of what her constituents were vibing to. It was then that I was rocked by it.
The strongest vortex whirl experience I’ve ever had outside of Sedona, Arizona.
It was magnetic, throttling- so beyond the Taos Hum one easily acclimates to in Taos, NM (if you were meant to be there) that I was thunderstruck.
It was this deep, guttural, seductive growl that roared up out of the dense forests northeast of town that my bed surrounded by picture windows looked up into, a pure purr that was talking to me through vivid dreams like a panther tenderizing its prey with fear from deep in the shadows alongside the path said prey walked.
She was polite but terrifyingly beautiful, coated in this visceral almost … I truly couldn’t find another word for what it was emitting but violence. I felt a rawness in the spirit of this place that I have not ever felt with all my vortex hopping and hunting across decades.
I was both shook and enthralled.
Energetically she reminded me of the concept of magma… I even said to someone that it felt like if the big one hit the new coast would be delineated by her, making a big C up to Muir woods with no fucks given for lives that didn’t heed the pre-emptive warnings she’d give.
I dove in wildly. And like the best tales, after a snatch of addictive time I got yanked up out of her depths, spirited back up to wine country to dry out… then returned to her lap like a suckling child for the month leading up to my birthday.
I can’t explain what it is about Santa Cruz the way I usually shorthand spots. It’s truly a boots on the ground sort of thing that I highly suggest you go experience if she’s calling you.
But over the next few~ theMAG.Globalboho.com will highlight some of the oases and watering holes the spirit of the city led me to (plus some heads ups regarding some cool things happening there in October in case you feel called to explore it).
One final thing from the end I will state at the beginning of this:
I found out in my last 24 hours there that all those cataclysmic visions of new world coastlines and the underground rivers of magma were not the overstimulated by scenery brain of a scifi writer on holiday.
Turns out that in 1989 there Had been a huge earthquake out here that they refer to as the Big One, an event that, northeast coast kid that I was, I didn’t even know had happened.
The downtown Santa Cruz area that rang out with this seemingly fully conscious laidback authenticity had been Totally Flattened by it. Reduced to tent cities. And the very bookshop that kept being my true north the entire pre- birthday month spent exploring here was the ground zero for Santa Cruz’s rebuilding efforts.
& the epicenter of the big one?
Right over where my eyes kept being pulled while perched up in that bedroom with wraparound windows that looked out from the Santa Cruz Mission plateau.
The locals had chuckled “yeah, definitely” whenever I , happily spooked, whispered anything along the lines of “…um~ do y’all know there’s some sort of Serious vortex energy here?”
They all spoke of how the ocean gorgeously churns all the BS outta things…but not one of them mentioned the earthquake.
& that’s across generations. But even though they’d chosen not to speak on it … the vortex was singing the siren song of recent feeds all along. She…wanted me to know before I left… that my instinct regarding her appetite was…right.
And as soon as I got to “next,” when I said where I’d come from the Big One was the first thing to fall out of someone’s mouth.
I never saw the boardwalk in the five weeks I was there. Locals said that was because I was truly in Santa Cruz this time and the tourists rarely go beyond it.
…Being on the road is a trip.