September 3: Thanks to Washington DC’s active surfer community and the promise of storm-stirred waves at Assateague, I met someone today whom I’ve known only in two dimensions, mediated through a Zoom screen and email. There we were, all hugs and smiles and orchids. We dined in view of fishing boats and concluded with ice cream and hot chocolate. I hope the surf is wonderful another weekend too!
September 4: Years ago, I taught Nate to understand and respect the ocean, as my father taught me. I took little Nathaniel in my arms and together we read the waves. With me, Nate learned when to jump, dive, or drop like a rock, if the fast-moving wave foreclosed other options. Nate also mastered the timing, skill and confidence of riding a wave to shore.
Today, as Nate and I bobbed in the ocean, he announced he would teach me to surf. He leashed my ankle to his surfboard and encouraged me, step by step, to lie on on my belly and stabilize the board against the choppy water (“engage your core, Mom!”), paddle the board (“go, Mom!”), and straddle the board (“lots more core, Mom!”). Finally, with my belly firmly planted on the board, he maneuvered me into a cresting wave and gave me a push. I took the “drop” and sliced through the water. Nate was whooping behind me. And then, because my body told me to, I rose from my belly to my hands and knees on the moving board — and kept going. The wave eventually released me and I threw my arms up, unabashedly claiming my ride. Nate flung his arms up joyously too: “You are a surfer now!”
September 5: “Captain John” charmed us with playful selfies, a bright playlist and a few dance moves. He invited us to laugh and to sip orange concoctions, all while navigating us along the Miles River for a “sunset cocktail cruise.” Joined by my old high school friend Cindy and her husband Doug (at the bar, mixing up those orange concoctions), Kevin and I watched Maryland’s historic St. Michaels unfold behind us and the wide river beckon. Cindy and Doug would later delight us with London broil and peaches drizzled in rum. But on the boat, watching Captain John dance, I remembered when Cindy’s dad taught us the Jitterbug and when Cindy’s young brother Johnny offered his arm when we needed partners. Now young Johnny — Captain John — looks exactly like his dad. The hip-swishing might not be a spin, but the delight in giving delight is exactly the same.
September 6: Jeremiah and I are captivated by the U.S. Open. Each day, we settle next to each other on the couch and gape as the players, sliding and lunging to all corners of the court, make impossible returns and deliver cunning shots. We admire their stamina and their heart. Creaky Old Knees, what do you think? Should we find my old aluminum racquet and bounce a few?
September 7: The other day, I sent a quick email to a friend to confirm logistics for an evening walk. You know how Google offers words and phrases to speed your email drafting? Well, I wrote “I’ll text you when I’m heading home from …” Google promptly suggested “heading home from work” and “heading home from the airport.” Not me. I typed “heading home from the ballpark.”
September 8: What a bouquet of friends this week. On Monday, Desmond, Karen and I exchanged wisdom and smiles while the Nats fashioned an improbable win. On Tuesday, Janet and I enjoyed a lovely walk in the shade of her neighborhood. And on Wednesday, Lee, Richard and I wandered the tree-lined terraces of Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, amid the crypts and gravestones of Washington DC’s past; we later picnicked by a meadow. All of these blossoms swirled around me, with promise of many more.
September 9: In early 2020, our local library boxed its books and closed its doors for a long-awaited renovation, just as COVID began its march. Today I sit in a bright, inviting space filled with tables, comfy chairs and all those wonderful books. A neighbor already stopped by my table to say hello. Our face masks can’t hide the joy of being in community again, in such a quiet and happy place.
Bonus: In his short essay “Sensualiterature,” essayist Brian Doyle savors the “snap and flap” of a newspaper folded in half and half again by a man in a pub. Doyle writes: “I wanted to shout with delight, partly because I realized of course that he must have done this many thousands of times in his life to have achieved such unconscious skill; but I did not shout or crow, but bent again to my pint, thrilled at the prevalence of pleasures and how the smallest are not small at all.”
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