“Get dressed! We need a change. These walls are closing in and I can’t take it anymore. And I don’t want any back talk. You’re coming with me, like it or not.”
My girlfriend Jana stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living room with her dark hair in disarray and her darker eyes challenging me to defy her. At the time, I was lying on the couch in panties and bra, waiting for the news to come on. Before I could declare my desire to watch the daily barrage of chaos, she said, “You won’t miss anything by coming with me. It’s time I showed you there’s more to life than absorbing other people’s viewpoints and feeling the way you’re expected to.”
WOW! What could I say to that? I slid off the couch and reached for the dress I’d peeled off earlier. This was one of those times that no was the wrong answer if I wanted to have a girlfriend the next day. It’s not like I’m subservient, but I understand the give and take of long-lasting meaningful relationships.
“Don’t dress up. Wear jeans, sneakers, and something warm.”
YES MAAM! I thought, but said, “where are we going?”
“You’ll see when we get there.”
When we headed west, I knew we were going to the beach. Jana grew up in Lincoln City and has an affinity for the ocean. Me, I prefer mountains, but have never been unappreciative of why people love sand between their toes. When we parked at the turnout in Road’s End, I was glad we weren’t far from restaurants and amenities but quickly realized she had no plan to visit them. She opened the trunk and procured a picnic basket, a small cooler, a blanket, and a bundle of kindling. Evidently, we were dining al fresco. Did she plan to stay all night? If so, where were our sleeping bags?
After gathering firewood and piling it for later, we sat holding hands on the blanket and listened to the incessant roar of waves battering the shoreline. As sunset erupted in an electric fusillade of color, I slipped into bliss generated by the power and serenity of our love. A fusion of heart, soul, and body. Surrounded by such beauty I understood Jana’s message. Our troubles mean nothing to the wind and rain. Every footprint we place in sand gets washed away by the tide. Such transience could seem sad were it not for love. Connectivity leading to meaningful existence. Though brief, splendorous.
There were no clouds to reflect artificial light that night. Dazzling stars soon littered the sky with diamond-like brilliance. Salt air filled our lungs and we exhaled our sorrows into a playful breeze. We swam in each other’s presence while life’s water cleansed our blood from despair. We had each other. That was enough. What path lie forward would be traveled as one. Jana sensed we were falling apart while I flopped on the couch and fretted over the state of mankind. She did something about it because she wanted to continue loving me. For that, I will remain grateful. We sat there all night. Wet hair from fog that crept in like a shadow. Blanket wrapped around us while we kissed in front of our small but valiant fire. Limbs rubbery when we rose with dawn.
As we prepared to leave, I saw that a bottle washed ashore in the night. I could see there was a message inside. I ran to it eagerly with childlike anticipation. Grasping it to my breast, I felt its moisture dampen my clothes as grains of sand merged with my skin. I waited till we were in the car and exiting the parking lot before I pried open the cap and retrieved the missive that was cast adrift from where I might never know. I read the message twice, then read it aloud to Jana as she drove us past the river through the trees. She smiled, and I felt joy from viewing her contentment as the words spilled from my lips.
Elements dance, and life swirls through time wearing constantly shifting facades. What we feel and seem in one moment becomes the next and we are constantly transformed. Yesterday’s sorrow becomes tomorrow’s hope and the past echoes while we experience now. We struggle for understanding and forget what we’ve learned. Souls in eternal transit, on our way to who knows where.