Sunday, February 8, 2015

Chasing the Sun (part 2)

Read part one here.

We met at the zoo. Ate tacos and drank over-sized margaritas. Walked past a strip of beach, bought bottles of water, and watched the surfers.

And I held her hand.

We retreated to Black’s Beach. Across the street from UC San Diego, we climbed down a winding stone set of stairs to reach the sand--a far steeper descent than West Cliff in Santa Cruz where I had been days before.

We sat in the sand and watched the ocean before us. Talked about how she had spent a birthday night at this very spot, snuggled alone in a sleeping bag, listening to the rhythm of the waves crash and reflecting, thinking, wishing.

She said was going to stare into my eyes for a minute. I thought she was just being romantic, but rather, one of the nudists on the beach was trying to make eye contact with her, and the attention to me both focused her eyes away from him and asserted that she and I were on that beach together.

We waded into the water, leaving my shoes and socks next to her sandals in the sand. I rolled up my jeans to knee-level--not high enough to keep them entirely dry, as it turned out. We looked west, where the sun had descended behind clouds. Not a sunset view in the traditional sense, but striking just the same where fading light and reflections and wind played at merging water and sky.

We held hands again. She asked me what I wanted.

I told her, “Happiness.”

She asked what that would look like.

I took her cheek in my hand, guiding her to face me. I bent to her for our first kiss.

We collected our shoes. We passed more old men with their flaccid penises dangling proudly. We climbed back up the stairs and wander back to the car. In the hours to follow we ate sushi, then ended up in her living room, listening to Gillian Welch, watching clips from Portlandia, and talking, talking, talking.

We fell asleep above the sheets on her bed, flat on our backs, holding hands.

And I knew.

“Chasing the Sun” is a song centered in New York, ostensibly a reflection on Sara Bareilles’s move from her native California to Manhattan. It fell into heavy rotation for me upon the release of The Blessed Unrest that July, and was the first track for the mix I made myself to listen to along my California road trip.

Yes, it’s a song about New York City. But it’s also about reflection. Achieving peace with our histories. The pursuit of happiness. Living.

You said, remember that life is
Not meant to be wasted
We can always be chasing the sun
So fill up your lungs and just run
But always be chasing the sun.

I resumed my planned trip itinerary the next afternoon. But we met up again a day later in Santa Monica. And after spending the better part of the day in flight, direct from LAX home to Baltimore, when I turned on my phone again, I had a series of text messages waiting for me. Links to new music on my Facebook wall. A weary smile waxed on my face. A life ahead of me.

All we can do is try
And live like we’re still alive.

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