We raced the waves, and it wasn’t my idea. It wasn’t me convincing others (via just a little play acting) to come join me in some delicious foolishness. It was the seventy-two-year-old man who taught me, years ago, to drive a stick shift and a dirt bike, who appears to love Sandra Bullock as much as I do (and thrift stores even more), who vetted boyfriends and who gave the “sending off” at my wedding.
He ran down the sloping beach toward the white foam, the bright blue water, then trotted backwards. (“That’s why I packed him a second pair of shoes,” his far more practical partner in crime said). He grabbed her hand and we all ran down, we all fled back. Three times, until he and I gambled heavily in our bid for the glory of going the farthest… and ended up wet to our knees but crowing with happiness.
All these years, my entire life, in fact, and I seem to have overlooked the example he has been for me (though I never underestimated his importance): this man who farmed corn and soybeans but who also flew an Ultralight (and who told us that on Halloween he could fly without it).
I guess I’d thought the goofiness was for us, for the benefit of the children. But it’s for himself, through and through. And seeing that, seeing him kneeling in the redwoods, striking up a conversation with literally everyone we met, carting home a stunning (and good-sized) rock, and playing tag with the Pacific– this is a startling moment of really seeing him, and simultaneously seeing myself and the full self I want to be.