I put down the top on my Beemer as we drove along the winding road leading to Topanga Canyon. Since it was Angel’s first hike, I took her on the easy route. We hiked to the waterfall on flat surface, then up the backside of the mountain on switchbacks to the top, where we had lunch. She opened her backpack and brought out the cheese and croissants while I opened the bottle of wine. OK, I guess I won’t study later, I thought. The view of the Pacific Ocean in the distance was spectacular. Endless navy blue water as far as the eye could see, with sprays of water crashing against the isolated boulders. Closer landscape revealed dry hills in desperate need of rain. Patches of green intertwined with tan grass that looked like wheat covering the barren land. A few mansions stood below us in the distance. I didn’t want to think about the apartment, but Angel wanted to gossip.
“What’s up with Mia? She’s a total bitch.”
“Don’t know. I only met Mia twice and she was usually leaving as I was arriving. In fact, I don’t really like any of the girls except you and Roxy.” I reached for another piece of cheese.
“I like Cindy and Heather,” Angel said. She cut more Gruyere and pulled apart a croissant.
“I don’t really know them. They seem nice, but I think they do drugs and I don’t want any part of that. I like this work for the moment, but it gets to me at times. I just want to finish school and continue with my career. Most of the girls I’ve met at the apartment have so much drama in their life and no direction. Speaking of such, have you thought about your future?” I asked.
“I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know what to do that will allow me to make this kind of money.”
“Well, start by going to community college and saving your money to buy property,” I advised. “Maybe you can go into the fashion industry or become a professional shopper,” I said jokingly.
“I like science, so maybe I can start taking classes in my free time.”
“I think you’ll like school, and you’re smart and have plenty of time. I can help you get started if you want.” I popped the last piece of croissant in my mouth.
“Do you really think I’m smart?”
I chuckled. “Of course you are, sweetie. You just need direction.”
I looked at the beautiful view of the mountains meeting the ocean and wondered what direction I was going in. I got into archeology for my love of culture and wanting to touch the past, to learn from the past. But I was frustrated with the graduate department at the university, a frustration that didn’t exist as an undergraduate. I needed to get past my disappointment in the system and in myself. Hiking allowed me to escape. So did hanging out with Angel and Roxy.