by Emily Dietrich

Scripps Enclave

I had promised myself I would write when I was in Los Angeles. I took a trip down to accompany my daughter to a language program at Pomona College, and we had a lot to do. The school year had just ended, and it had been far from smooth for any of us. We rushed down to LA, packing and stocking up for her six-week stay as we went along.

I needed to write.

But I had filled my days and evenings up with seeing relatives and friends after Rosalyn’s program began. I barely squeezed in a swim, another promise I made to myself, in the hour the pool was open after I returned from dinner out.

I was leaving in a few hours when I visited the Scripps campus, my notebook in hand. Addict that I am, I first had to find a Diet Coke. I wrote while I drank it in a crescent of shade amid young women on a break from something. Writing felt like a relief, just putting pen to paper started to soothe me. I was nowhere near finished, but I wanted to find a special spot, revealed to me by a Scripps alumna.

Her tip was invaluable, because the garden she directed me to was more than secret. The entrance through a nondescript wall brought no attention to itself. Only the little map and my friend’s assurances kept me from walking past the very spot for the third time.

Inside the walls, inside the walls! Just being inside those walls, my shoulders dropped and my breathing slowed. First, I felt safe, as if I had arrived, intact, finally.

Then, the pleasures came upon me, every sense sharing in the riches there. Feet crunching quietly on the gravel, I looked in every corner to discover sculpture, fountains, tiles and murals. The air had a slight perfume to it, cooler by many degrees than the day.

I found my spot on a built-in bench near an encouraging mural of a strong woman, in view of a maternal sculpture. Writing now, finally, eagerly, I looked up during pauses at a magnificent vine, knots think and Celtic, sheltering my writing nook.

By turns writing and gazing, I passed an hour or a bit more. I still needed to peek in the chapel before I left. I felt gratitude as a looked at the leaf, orange, rock others had left at the tiny altar under a vaulted ceiling, and I offered my own thanks.

I felt as if I had been to an exotic, customized spa day for off-balance moms when I walked toward my car. I began to heal in that lovely space by writing, and by being there.

Author: Emily

Emily Dietrich is a poet, novelist, and mystery writer.

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