Happy Love Story

“Yeah? What?”
“That just isn’t happening, babe. It’s…”
“Too Ocean Beach, right? That’s what bugs you. Well, I think this wedding dress and some glittery silvery shiny flip-flops, perfect.”
“I don’t know what my parents will think. They’re, you know, east coast.”
“From what I hear, people back there don’t even wear SOCKS with their top-siders and dress pants.”
“That’s true.”
“Think of all those sweaty feet in those top-siders. Now that’s gross. You’re wearing socks to our wedding, right? I mean if you wear those dress shoes?”
“I AM wearing dress shoes and you should wear heels.”
“I’m wearing flip-flops, babe.” She spun around the room on her bare feet. “Or nothing.”
“On my FEET, silly.”
Kevin’s phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and checked the number. “Gotta’ go, babe. See you later.” He kissed her quickly on the mouth and left. He hurried around the building — they were lucky to find an apartment right on the beach like this but parking was a bitch as was extricating oneself from the whole labyrinth of a beach town. It was worth it. Tiffany had never lived anywhere but on the beach. If he wanted her — and he did! — he had to toe her line. Well, OK.

Tiffany held her wedding dress up against her and looked in the mirror! How could she have been so LUCKY! Here was Kevin, gorgeous and doing well in his hedge fund business already! Only twenty-two… Her same age! OMG!!!

(The writer — a wise old woman — interjects here to let the reader know that there will be no tragedy. Kevin will not be in a car wreck on the entry ramp to the freeway, though godnose it’s a bitch, and Tiffany will not suddenly get a phone call from a longed for lost ex, nothing like this. This is going to be a pretty trite story in which, well, never mind.)

“Hi Mom!”
“Hi sweetie. Thanks for meeting me! You know I hate driving down there. It’s SUCH a tangle! I don’t know why you couldn’t have moved up to Del Mar nearer dad and me.”
“No problem, Mom. I’ll meet you anywhere.” Tiffany gave her mom a hug and a kiss.
“Where do you want to look for shoes?”
“SHOES? I’m wearing flip-flops.”
“Sweetie, listen. Kevin and his family are from the east coast. It’s a much more formal part of the country than California. Why don’t you show them a little respect and get some nice dress shoes to go with your dress? Remember. It’s Kevin’s grandmother’s dress. I don’t think back in the 50s women wore flip-flops to weddings, or anywhere. It won’t look good, baby. Why do you always wear your hair in your face?”
“Oh stop mothering me MOTHER!” giggled Tiffany. “How about Macy’s? I don’t want to spend a fortune on shoes I’ll only wear once, right?”

“So, Kev, dude, how’s the gearing up for the wedding?”
“Good, except Tiffany insists on wearing flip-flops.”
“Put your foot down, dude. I mean, you know, like seriously.”
“I just know my parents. They’re so, you know, New Jersey.”
“Yeah. Well, just tell her.”

Kevin got home that night to find, in the middle of the dining room table, a shoebox from Macy’s. “Babe?”
“In here!”
“What’s on the table?”
“Oh, my mom bought me shoes for the wedding. Go ahead and open it!”
Kevin took the lid off the box and found inside a pair of pointed-toe shoes (low heels; Tiffany didn’t think she could walk in a REAL 1958 replica pair!) that would go perfectly with his mom’s 1958 wedding dress. “I love you babe. AND your mom!”


The two weeks until the wedding passed in the blink of an eye. Tiffany looked gorgeous in grandma’s wedding dress. Kevin was every inch the proud groom. The shoes were perfect, “Look like shoes my mom would have worn,” sobbed Kevin’s mom into her Irish lace handkerchief. At the reception, Kevin’s mom packed up two slices of wedding cake for them to freeze for their first wedding anniversary. They went to Hawaii for their honeymoon and everyone lived happily ever after.


Grunion Running and a Message in a Bottle

You’re at the beach, lounging on your towel, when a glistening object at the water’s edge catches your eye. It’s a bottle — and yes, it contains a message. What does it say?

I’m so engrossed in my novel that I do not even notice the tide coming in until the small shore-waves splash my feet.

“Damn,” I think. “I have to move. Maybe I’ll just call it a day.”

I stand up and put my book in my beach bag. I carefully lift my towel and carry it closer to the ocean to shake it out. Living by the beach, a person learns to shake out the towel where the sand won’t bother others. The wind shifts and blows the sand into my face. I turn back to my bag, book, car keys and the appurtenances of the land life. I begin to think of the day’s next step, a long drive back to the mountains, feeding the dogs, a shower, dinner I realize — again — that whatever break I take from routine, routine doesn’t go anywhere. I’m not ready for that. I’m not ready to pick up where I left off.

I sit down on the sand again, remembering when I moved here, thirty years ago this coming August. I didn’t want to move here. I was happy where I was, but the marriage (already rocky and awkward) and my loyalty to it, brought me out to California where I’d never wanted to live. We lived in apartments near here, near the beach. I had no idea what to do with the ocean. I’m a mountain woman. I had a boogie board and a bike and a swim suit and so I did what everyone else did on this isthmus (island, it’s called but is NOT. California really IS all about illusion) and went on my bike to the beach. I watched people boogie boarding and tried it. I got dumped over and over again. I worried constantly that someone had stepped on my glasses or that I wouldn’t be able to find my stuff. I had a bright red towel to help me with that, laid over the back of my beach chair like a beacon to my blindness. At the end of each of these “adventures” I’d ride home with sand in my suit, miserable, homesick, lonely, confused and hating the beach. Every day I reminded myself that once I had loved the ocean.

So here I am now, seeking just a quick respite from teaching, class, my normal life, my mountain life.

GrunionAlertDanHarding-lgIt’s a good beach. Since the dark early days, I’ve had a lot of fun here. Beach parties, body surfing with kids, surfing once on a stolen surfboard with the boys, my dogs running after gulls and ending up in the waves, riding back, joyful, on the waves. I once watched a stark weather change – a sea change – placid heat and flat green sea to sudden white horses and dark blue waves, all in minutes. I’ve found living sand dollars, lavender and soft. One night I saw the grunion run. They are beautiful little fish with cute faces. They come in thousands to the beaches to do their very odd mating ritual. I remember a bright spring afternoon, a friend, riding high waves, near the rip tide, fearless, breath-taking, beautiful. Navy jets fly overhead.

I walk into the shallow surf, the sand black with mica.

An object bobs toward me in the waves, a bottle. My first thought, “Glass on the beach!!! Grrrrrr!” then I reach for it. There’s a note inside. I think of Sting, shake off the horror of that, and remove the note.

“Help! I’m trapped in time!” The handwriting is mine.