Paradise (and it ain't lost)
I heard too the strange, quiet, smooth sound of car tires on dry pavement. A sound so soft, it is sometimes barely noticeable.
But I did not hear the steady, plop-plop-plop of raindrops on the sunken, soddy ground below my window.
I lay in my bed, half afraid to rise, pull back the curtain, and gaze on the day, for fear I would see grey clouds gathering or the eastern sky tinged with red (red sky in the morning, sailor take warning).
Summoning my courage, I rolled out of bed, crept softly, quietly (lest any noise create some sort of catastrophic atmospheric chain of events that could quite possibly wreak havoc with my fragile mood) and, barely able to stand the suspense and filled with dread and fear, pulled the curtain back just a bit, just a tiny, teeny bit.
Beyond the curtain, through the window, I saw what seemed to me to be …
Blue. I flung the curtain open and saw – a clear sky reveling in its blueness. A sky so broad, so deep, so blue – it must be heaven. Not a single cloud - not one wisp, nor strand, nor stray bit of fluff - in sight.
Nonetheless, being a skeptic and a cynic and half-convinced that I was merely delusional, I took my raincoat with me to campus.
But I never used it. Not today. After teaching and then conferencing with one student after another, I headed out to Ocean Beach, pulled neatly into the first available parking space, and pretending to completely ignore the young man smoking pot in the car next to mine, I changed as quickly as I could from my “take me serious – I’m your teacher and I can flunk your ass if I choose” clothes into my “I don’t give a damn what I look like - I’m walking on the beach” clothes. I locked up the car, and for one moment considered asking that young man for a drag off his blunt, but deciding that I was quite high enough already on the color blue and the gleaming sunlight, turned my back on the sweet scent wafting from his car and joined the giddy, dizzy, amazed San Franciscans out for a romp on the beach.
The recent storms had left their mark – sea boulders, rocks, stones, crushed sea shells, driftwood scattered across the dark sand. But the waves glittered in the sunshine and there was not even one hint of off-shore fog. Snowy plovers scurried along the shoreline. A dog gleefuly trotted down the beach with a stick in his mouth while others of his kin chased balls or frisbees; toddlers ran with pudgy little legs and bare feet across the sand, giggling then squealing when the wet waves lapped up and covered their pink little toes. Old men in fishing boots clumped along, their eyes scanning the horizon, watching a barge move north along the coastline toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Two old women, walking arm-in-arm, one wearing a red scarf, the other a dark brown cap, gossiped in Italian and pointed first at the seagulls, then at a little boy and his kite. Bikini-clad girls stretched out in the sun. Buff young men, breaking just a trace of sweat, ran shirtless down the beach. And I smiled at everyone. They all smiled back.
Now I sit on my balcony, the day over, sipping a cosmopolitan. The sun shines through the green leaves of the prickly maples that frame my balcony. The air has a nip to it – I am wearing a sweatshirt – and a gentle breeze moves the wind chimes ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly – yet I can hear the sweet tones – just barely, just barely. The sun is still shining and the sky, as it has all day, remains cloudless.
No matter that rain is forecast for Friday. Today it was sunny and I walked on the beach.