By Niki Smart
I don’t live in a mansion or even a modest condo on the “inland” side of town. I live in a 250- square-foot studio I lovingly refer to as my shoebox of joy.
The reason I can live in this tiny space without gnawing off my limbs is that it’s within walking distance of all of the treasures our little village by the sea springs forth almost instantaneously.
As we all know, Laguna is magical; as a single woman, particularly, I don’t feel lonely or even nervous venturing out alone. On the contrary, I feel I have an entire village of friends, or at least potential friends, waiting to greet me. It’s nice to feel enjoyed.
I once fainted at the Laguna Coffee Company and was immediately whisked off by another patron to the walk-in clinic downtown. After several tests, the kind doctor put it down to exhaustion and relegated me to bed. Yippee. Friends filled my shoebox, bringing me smoothies and healthy food from The Stand on Thalia Street, and beaucoup books to read; I even got a foot massage from the musical director at St Anne’s church. Seriously, where else can one get this kind of treatment? Community spirit is alive and well and living to the fullest in Laguna Beach.
I released my memoir, “Hell Camp,” in July. The Koffee Klatch offered me a book launch, supplying free coffee and cookies. Who could want anything more? Laguna Beach Books helped me organize a book signing and placed my book on their shelves. Like I said, who could want anything more? The local papers wrote reviews and gave me “ink.” Loads of locals bought my book and then proceeded to give me loving feedback; I was in tears reading some of the emails they sent to me. Need I say anything more?
I was chosen as one of Laguna Beach’s Leading Ladies by Laguna Beach Magazine in October and instantly became one of the 10 top “bachelorettes” in town. The more just keeps “more-ing.” When I looked up the definition of bachelorette, however, it said: a young lady who lives alone. Well, I do live alone but that’s definitely not how it feels living here.
The people of Laguna Beach nourished me through their care, support and generosity, and the town entertains me with things like the Pageant of the Masters and the Sawdust Festival, First Thursdays’ Art Walk, Sunset Serenades, Saturday-morning jazz and the farmers market, and even the Patriot’s Day Parade. Then there are the Cindy Sightings, and April impersonating Edith Piaf downtown and, lest we forget, the beach, there for us anytime we need it. To me, every year’s a good year at (Laguna) beach.
Niki Smart is an author, musician and yoga instructor. She works part-time at a youth shelter for emotionally disturbed teenagers.