Written on a previous day, I apologize for not changing over to past tense, but I didn’t really feel like it :)
Finally, its Saturday morning and I am laying on the beach, the sun aggressively imprinting itself on my face maybe for memory’s sake, and I’m trying to sort through all the visuals cluttering my mind so I can appropriately write this post. I settle on a “what I’ve learned in California” sort of approach. Since this is my second trip, my take-away is certainly different than my first time.
We did more things on Wednesday and Thursday, but my favorite day of vacation was Friday. It was also the day it all came together. My unplanned, un-busy Friday began with grabbing up some gear and laying on the beach and it finished by a volleyball court in the sand in front of Zulma and Matt’s friends’ home. As the music played, I had to get over my fear of being a sub par beach volleyball player to enjoy another game. We narrowly won. I still hate not being able to play beach like an indoor chick. Later, I did comment that their friends were great at not making me feel bad for my lack of beach skills (but I certainly do wish I could have had a sport court readily available for my own pride). It was the ride back, after a painted on sunset that was made of wispy clouds and strong colors, that it came to me. The reason for why California is so great. Matt and their friends had whispered about it throughout the week. I had surely caught glimpses of it during my days here, but it was on that bike ride up the strand back to Manhattan Beach that I clearly laid my eyes on it.
As we rode our way down, Matt kept peddling faster, passing us if he fell behind, staying in front of his gorgeous wife. He peddled, then he stood, allowing the wind to fill his shirt and push against him. I noted in my head how much this 6”5’ man, with the slightly receding hairline and strikingly youthful eyes, resembled a kid at that moment. Then my eyes fell to Zulma, wearing her backpack and chugging up a slight incline. Her legs pushing hard and her grip tight around both handles and it dawned on me that she too indeed resembled a child at play. And there, beyond the Hollywood sign, the celebrity gawking…beyond even the healthfulness of the entire city, is the reason why California holds something great. Because it allows you to have fun. It allows you to live like a kid. Hurrying out of the school hall when the bell rings and throwing all your responsibility away like a book-bag thrown on the couch as you make your way down to the beach to spend time with your friends kicking up sand and throwing water. California was about correctly prioritizing. Stepping away from the desk and leaving the work inside that closed room. Allowing the sun to be what it is and breathe life into you.
Although, I do need to admit my bias and say I had been enchanted with these 2 the entire trip. Matt was the epitome of attentive; always reminding his wife to think of herself first, the way in which he kissed her upon arrival, taking the time to truly see how she was doing. My eyes took an untallied count of the times he touched Zulma, rubbing her back, stroking her arm and looking at her as if she were the only thing that mattered. My appreciation for this man my friend had married had grown each day of the trip.
And Zulma, she already knows the love I have for her. She never ceases to make me laugh, imploring deeper conversation as I grow older, or lead me astray. The days where she watched out for me in college, those memories are still forefront in my mind. Her beauty is quite literally matched by her warm, welcoming and nurturing personality. These 2, along with Morgan, they made this trip for me.
So today Morgan and I will board the plane back East, letting the sun slowly disappear behind us as we float through the various timezones. While I am happy to be getting home, I have this sneaking suspicion I am going to try and carry on the feeling I gained for a few days. Heck, maybe I will even quickly retreat back West when I am ankle deep in DC cold. Physically I am bringing back a hat, a bathing suit and one
“gnarly” tan. Although my routine strongly beckons me back, I surely will keep replaying the vision of Manhattan Beach in my mind. The direct sunlight against my browning skin, the diamond speckled ocean leading to an endless horizon. The dark sunglasses under baseball hat bills that disguised thirty-something’s that passed themselves off as twenty-something life enjoyers and explorers. The sounds of bikes and dogs on the strand, while music plays during a pick-up game of volleyball. Zulma’s accent jutting out of the various conversations, always dotted with a tangible and contagious excitement. And of course the sunset that backdrops this meticulously simple movie. Yes, my heart might be in VA, but maybe one day I’ll have to reconnect with my mind that I am surely leaving in California.