Thanksgiving came early at the Everest household. The dudes and I ventured west to Stinson Beach to celebrate the season and see shooting stars. On Sunday morning the trip was still up in the air as I awaited news that we could rent a cabin for one night instead of the customary two. I felt anxious. For no reason. An old habit trying to emerge again. Would I forget anything? Would we have a place to stay? What if we didn’t see any shooting stars? Would the dudes still have fun? Would everything go like clockwork?
I have to shower, pack clothes. Take care of the pets, fold the laundry. Load up the car. Go through the dudes school folders to prepare for Tuesday. I’m out of milk!
Okay, Cleo. That’s enough of that. You need to slow down. Relax! Spinning so fast only makes you dizzy, unable to focus. It takes away the joy of the moment. You let tasks beat you up. For the sake of all stars, we’re going to the beach! Chill out! You are creating angst where generations before you have never been able to get it to take root. That is not a noteworthy accomplishment.
Go like clockwork? It’s the beach! The only clocks are the sun and the stars. Go and be.
At 11AM, just as the first batch of chocolate chip cookies went into the oven, the phone rang – Lucky number 7 was ours for the evening at the Sandpiper. We loaded the car with sleeping bags, scooters, skateboard, clothes, cookies, marshmallows and cocoa. All essentials for an apres-midnight camp out on the beach to lay on the sand, listen to the waves and watch for streaking stardust.
The drive to Stinson Beach is more than a drive through West Marin for me. It’s a pilgrimage. By now the dudes consider my oohs and aahs pure white noise.
Look! The hills are greening! Oh, the baby cows – so furry and cute! There’s the fallen down house, and the reservoir, and more cows! Oh, that little baby is sleeping.
They do that, Mom. Cows sleep.
The twists and turns of the back roads are familiar now. I anticipate the dimming of light as Highway 1 dips into a grove of Eucalyptus trees and smile reflexively when I see the sign for Dogtown. I become near-giddy when the road crests and a tiny sliver of gray-blue water, the bay just south of Bolinas, comes into view. And then the sign for Stinson Beach…home. Home for one night.
Home at last.
Highway 1 is “Main Street”. This town is minute. Under 500 residents, 2 blocks long, a few side streets and a hill peppered with homes, the flats dotted with bungalows. At the stop sign, we turned right and left at the bend, driving between the postage stamp sized playground and the Parkside Cafe. One (only) block up, at a V in the lane, sat the Sandpiper. Cabin 7 was just inside the wooden gate. In one room was a fireplace (the heater), a small kitchen (complete with gas stove – take that all the condos I’ve seen!), a bathroom, a futon bed that the tall dude claimed, a queen bed for moi, and should the little dude want it, a foldaway single. He opted to ‘cuddle’ with me. Emphasis on the ‘dd’. As in cu-ddull.
Every word he says, except ‘no’ and ‘idiot’, makes me melt.
Boulders beckoned. We unloaded the car, walked to the end of the lane, and right into the parking lot for the beach. The dudes sprinted through the trees to the sand as if they had grown up here, displaying a confidence that comes with being at home in your surroundings. Off they ran, heading south to the rocks they so love to climb. I kept pace, while making every effort to slow down and savor this feeling. For one night I can pretend I live here. Experience what it’s like to leave the beach and shower, dress, and hold the hands of my two favorite men as we walk down a miniature street to a pocket-size restaurant to have dinner, the ocean on one side, Mt. Tam on the other. Strolling home in the chilled, sea air, to a cozy cabin. Crawling into bed, and after a few moments of silence, being able to hear the waves in the distance.
Stinson is a town, but to me it’s a cocoon.
The dudes ran through boulders on flat, packed sand looking for the perfect one to scale. Heading off in separate directions, the tall dude picked a triangular shaped rock that was set back from the water’s edge, behind a twenty-footer being climbed by a group of young lads in skinny jeans, somehow managing to still get that knee bent, placing toes on miniscule ledges, and pulling their lean bodies up with biceps that never see the inside of the gym, honed instead by nature.
A man with a camera snapped them from below. This was either going to be an album cover or something a bit more titillating was going on. I ran with album cover.
Mom, these rocks have moved! The tall dude was looking over the edge of his, having made it to the top in record time, studying its placement in relation to the ocean.
These rocks haven’t moved in a long time. They’re like ships; there’s much below the surface that we can’t see.
He looked down at me. His eyes were equal parts believe me, I know what I’m talking about and I can’t believe you don’t see it.
They’ve moved, Mommy.
The arms needed a breather. Behind us was a river of rocks nestled up against the base of the cliff that supports Highway 1 as it hugs the coast. Various cairns, mini rock towers, were hidden amongst other rocks stacked by time. It’s typical to find cairns on trails, especially above the tree line, to mark the route. I hadn’t noticed them here before.
One was a magnificent example of art and engineering, six stones perched on the inverted V-shaped crest of a rust colored rock. The dudes zoomed over to check it out and were soon constructing their own while I looked for sea glass. It had been years since I found a piece.
Hunting for sea glass, building cairns, climbing rocks keeps the mind busy, freeing the heart up to explore and create. The daydreaming that I do when I’m absorbed in turning over pebbles smoothed by the sea, looking for glass tumbled glossy and opaque is a unique kind of thinking. My physical eyes and brain are busying themselves with the hypnotic task of the search, while my heart and the eyes and mind of my soul have the freedom to get s…tuff done.
The connection to Stinson Beach is deep-rooted. Yes, it’s gorgeous, idyllic, moody, full of surprises and populated with a fascinating mix of locals and those from near and far. Stinson is Nature’s laughter. Who wouldn’t want to live here? A question that caused me to ponder my own motivations.
Am I attracted by the shiny? Experiencing some sort of divorce menopause? Has my inner romanticist run amok? What’s next? Surfing lessons and a 25 year old boyfriend named Beau? Isn’t it just a little Disney?
But as I flipped over stone after stone with my foot, balancing my way across the rocks, glancing up at the waves as they gently came ashore, and coming down surefooted on the next rock, I felt the pull, the need to be here. This is home. Magic is going to happen here.
It’s not some ditzy dream. It’s the reward for a lot of hard work. But most of all, it’s a reward for believing in myself, believing that I can make it happen.
The dudes had taken up behind me, captivated by the search for elusive sea glass. Without having ever found or recalled seeing one, they were as excited as I was to finally unearth a pale green, L-shaped piece, smooth, rounded and clear on the edges, coarse and milky on the front and back. My shriek and animated presentation of the sea glass, complete with a booming Gentleman, I give you…….sea glass…embedded in their beings an instant obsession with collecting it.
The tall dude was determined to find his own. The sky, streaked with wispy clouds blown out by the setting sun, was orange at the horizon, capped with a pale green that darkened to an early-evening blue; a sign that dinnertime was near and the light would soon fade. I thought about suggesting we postpone the hunt till the morning, but I didn’t want to dampen his enthusiasm.
You’ll find one, honey.
And he did. Right then. A small ‘L’, amber in color, smooth. He turned it between his fingers like a bead. Then thrust it out to us, so proud of his discovery. The little dude clutched his green one, proud that he was the recipient of something I clearly was stoked to find.
We walked back along the beach together, glowing from the day and the reds, oranges and golds of the setting sun. Up ahead, a five foot tall heart was carved in the sand. Initials inside. Footprints outside.
I wish someone was moved to draw me a heart like that. My stomach flipped a little. The dudes read the initials as they walked by. Then staked out their own canvas.
The tall dude was bent over, two fingers pulling through the sand making the bat of a ‘b’ followed by the ball.
Mommy, how do you spell thankful?
I looked down to see be. A wave of gratitude washed over me. Followed by tears as I saw the little dude’s words.
Although not planned as our Thanksgiving, this impromptu holiday was turning into a celebration of thanks. At it’s midpoint was a dinner that would have my heart skip 10 beats, sink and then settle down, only to be stirred again by shooting stars.