* An old piece from 2010...written after a weekend in one of my favorite places. I was in Stinson Beach again this weekend and reminded of days that stretched out empty and full of possibility, or of nothing if we preferred. The days before children, when it was just the two of us, and such freedoms were our birthright.
We were on vacation with friends and had woken up to that bright morning light that means you are next to the water. I sat up on the fold-out couch that had been our bed that night, rubbed my sore back and looked out through the open window at the impossibly blue sea and said, "Oh!" as though any word could sum up the beauty of what was before me. You pulled me back to you, covering both of us with the thin duvet that smelled of mothballs and lavender and we both fell back into that nirvana-like sleep that blesses us once or twice a year.
Later, after everyone had stumbled out of bed, eaten and made plans for the day - when we would eat next and what we would drink? - you looked at me and said, "Walk?" We had brought the dog and, at the mention of her favorite word, she started dancing around our ankles and you laughed, a perfect web of lines scattering out from the sides of your eyes as your mouth broke out into a grin. You looked up at me as you rubbed her neck and something inside of me felt like it was falling.
We walked north for miles. The beach stretched interminably before us and, as the dog inspected the dunes and sniffed at every vertical object, we moved easily between talking and silence. We stopped now and then to comment on the beach houses that rose to our right and you would say things like, "Let's buy this one. Right now. I have 14 cents on me. You?" And then you would grab my hand and we would walk on, smiling in the knowledge that even if, someday, we could afford something that grand, what we had right here between us was enough.
Hours later, the beach ended in a peninsula, and we stood there for a long while, surrounded on three sides by sea. I dug my toes into the sand and threw my head back into the afternoon breeze. My skin was warm and coated with the salt air. My hair had become a mess of tangles from both wind and moisture. Before we left the house, I had pulled it back and a few moments into the walk you had pulled out the elastic and said, "You know I love how your hair gets when we're at the beach." And now your hand crept up my back and into the nape of my neck where you interlaced your fingers with my curls. We stood there for a long time. I didn't want to turn back for home.
But we did. And about two hours later we saw our friends camped out under an umbrella. Our hands parted as we walked up to them and I flopped down at the edge of their blanket, popping a chip into my mouth. The dog sought shelter under the porch of a nearby home and proceeded to dig herself a hole in the cool sand and fall into an exhausted sleep.
"Where have you two been?" our friends asked. "You were gone for hours."
You looked at me and smiled and said, "We walked until the beach ended." I smiled back. I felt, somehow, as though I knew you more completely than I had before. I don't know why. I still don't.
But I sometimes, when life is difficult and I need a reminder of things that are good, I look back and remember that moment and think to myself, whatever happens in my life, I have had one perfect day. And in truth, there have been many, but that is the one I think of the most.