By Bette Anderson
It’s the end of the year, the traditional time to reflect on the past, good and bad, and plan for the future, to rest your feet on the coffee table and sip a glass of wine, red for Christmas, white for snow. So I ask myself, why did I originally come here and what makes people think this town is special? What have I learned during the past 25 years, and what would I like to see change? Long thoughts with, considering where we live, maybe some short answers.
My husband and I moved to California to escape the freezing winters of Michigan. Shoveling the driveway had lost its Midwestern charm. We drove up and down the coast searching for a livable town and stumbled upon Laguna, where no two houses and, we discovered, no two people were alike. He said something that sounded like, “It’s tacky; I love it.” I heard “unique” and I knew we’d found our new home.
The years that followed were busy and fun (Lagunese: synonymous). We joined neighborhood and environmental groups, took lots of pictures, enrolled in classes and made new friends. On one occasion, during Laguna’s annual holiday Hospitality Night, I even sat on Santa’s lap to have my picture taken (adults can do that here). I later learned that the jolly fellow under the white beard was actually the city’s chief of police. Inspired, Ken and I opted to dress up and play Santa and Mrs. Claus ourselves another year, and, after seeing smiling Laguna faces from a closer perspective, got a deeper appreciation for our town’s police chief.
Sadly, no happy account of Laguna events can omit the devastating fire of 1993, when hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged and precious possessions were lost. Ken and I were lucky. Although stranded out of town for several days, we found our house had been spared everything but a heavy layer of soot. It was heartening to witness neighbors banding together to help others rebuild their homes and lives.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to look at things not-so-perfect in Laguna, but here are my top picks:
Traffic. It’s getting harder every day to drive through town, especially on weekends, and almost impossible to find a parking spot (is your head nodding in agreement?) I wish more of our visitors would use a shuttle instead of cramming the streets.
I also wish… MTV fans would realize that the “show” is over and was not, and hopefully will never be, the real Laguna.
That the LBPD weren’t so quick to issue parking tickets when your car’s wheels are only slightly over the line.
For more rain, but only at night, and only gently.
And, my final wish: I wish I could stay here forever and nothing would change.
Bette Anderson is a 25-year resident of Laguna Beach, a former librarian and a short-story writer.