Happy memories of laughing with friends, exploring with the children, breathing the fresh morning air in the desert between the Sierra Laguna mountains and the endless Pacific ocean.
Three pelicans standing like dignified statues on a steep and hardpacked stretch of sand. Wary eyes on me as I walk by, but their formation holds.
The night we arrived, Brent brought over a warm loaf of his sourdough bread wrapped in a dishtowel. We stood around the kitchen island and cut the break into thick fragrant slices and ate the bread together, moaning because it was so good and laughing because we moaned.
Stories, stories, stories from our friends, making up for years away. Recollections of the days in Wicker Park when we all first met, of old friends who have moved away, friends who are doing well like Paul whose mural decorates the Philly airport terminal, friends who are struggling -- Jerry, who is drinking too much, worrying his wife. We pause with the news. For her to make that concession is huge. We did not know.
Jumbles of child and dog and pillows on a bed made on the floor.
The homemade bocce court raked and groomed out of the sand in Serena's garden. Our two girls and our friends' two boys toss the balls, bicker and negotiate over rules, lose the baseball we've brought on the palm roof, find peace in the mutual enemy of a tiny Dora doll, whose elaborate doom they plan by the hour.
Brent's paintings, joy on canvas.
The sweet voices of children at the Palapa Society that Serena runs, their after-school music lessons in English culminating in this music program we are privileged to hear. "I'm a little teapot." "Don't worry about a thing. Every little thing's gonna be alright."
Brent's homemade pizza and dal and a vegan potato pie with a somehow crispy crust from the coconut milk, oh oh oh.
Fresh limeade, ceviche with jicama and mango, tender whitefish in a champagne buerre blanc at a restaurant with open walls and a palm frond roof, rosemary sorbet and lime ice cream.
Sun on the waves. Horses and dogs on the beach.
Surfers at the La Pastora point break. One hunches over sideways, like Rodin's Adam at rest, gliding over his wave effortlessly and smooth. Beautiful.
Then home. And the awful news that Jerry took his life. Stricken. Shock. Bewilderment. Great grief for our friend, for his wife, for his pain, for hers.
And the days before made even more precious.