I could wake up to this view every day and never get tired of it. This morning, two hot air balloons hover over the valley. The morning air is cool but I love that. There’s nothing like a cold morning where the coffee steams in swirls and tastes good just because it’s warm.

But of course, on vacation, everything tastes good, right?

Yesterday I drove through forest to get to the sea. Tall pines taller than any I’d seen framed a winding two-lane road that swelled and dipped as the mountains rose along my path. Finally, I turned onto Highway 101, the Pacific Coast highway, which follows the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean all the way down this side of the country.

At first sight of surf, I was giddy. I could smell it through the car window and so I turned the music louder and kept on, looking, feeling, breathing in.

Finally, I stopped at the lighthouse in Newport and climbed to the highest point. A winding dirt path through thicket of wildflowers took me face to face with a low pine and just like that, I was home in a place I’d never been before.

How to imprint a beautiful memory? Words are not enough. I can only close my eyes in the moment and listen, to carry the surge of wind and crash of wave and whisper of grass and click of insect on my skin to take away with me.

Why take pictures on a trip? Will I ever look at them again? My camera becomes a barrier between me and this place, any place, obscuring the view, blocking taste and texture. And so I tucked it away and sat on the grass atop a cliff, laid my head against the rushes, to fully live the moment so it is forever a part of me.

When I climbed down a dune to the beach, I carried only my car key. Shoes off, I walked the sand to a mosaic of water-smoothed rocks, over which stream water threaded into the sea. I watched it and listened to its sweet sound, stepped a foot in its cold bath, as ocean waves rose and crashed on the sand.

Then I walked back along the beach almost to the cliff I had to climb back up, and sat on the sand to watch the water, to listen to its heartbeat, to breathe in its pristine salt kiss.

At the end of my day, as I was about to pull away from the Salishan Market outside Lincoln City, a tire on my rental car went flat. Dead flat. Had I been home or had this been a few years back, I would’ve been tied in knots nervous and angry. But I wasn’t.

I walked into a shop and sweetly asked an old man at the counter what to do. I know nothing about changing a tire, but it was 3 o’clock on a weekday and I was on vacation so somehow, I’d figure it out. He had no answer for me, and so I retreated to my car and started dialing.

Suddenly, a man called to me from his open car window. “Do you want me to help change your tire?”

I was relieved and suspicious, thinking of horrific stories and my mother’s inevitable reaction had she been standing beside me. But I relented and David Naidu got out of his car and walked over to mine. “I hope someone will do this for my wife one day,” he said.

I slung my purse over my shoulder and kept my bluetooth on my ear as we looked for the spare (full-size, yay!), the tools, the manual. He thumbed through the pages since the jack was nothing like anything he’d ever seen and it obviously wasn’t familiar to me either.

As I finally got an Alamo car rental person on the phone, David hoisted my VW Rabbit up on the jack. He unbolted the tire and pulled it off. And then, the car fell off the jack.

“That’s bad,” he said.

Alamo was just about to send a tow truck when David sweated his way through hoisting the car up one more time. It rested there long enough for him to fit the new tire in place. I ran to get him a large Pepsi. When I returned, he was walking away, having put away the tools. Sweat dotted his face.

I thanked him and thrust¬†$50 into his hand. “Don’t say no,” I said. “Buy yourself a nice dinner tonight and thank you so much.” Then I asked for his card and home address, so I can send a proper thank you.

As I drove back through the forest to my wine-country stay, I felt like the stars were shining just for me. I always knew people could be this generous, this kind, but each time I see it, it is a revelation.

Today I am 37 years old and on top of the world. I had forgotten I was this person all the years of my marriage. I love this state of being, living steeped in the passions of the mundane – cool, crisp morning air, a symphony of birds, a hawk spanning sky and screaming, hills imprinting the view, being the view, loving the view and the air and the moments like the glass of wine I sipped years ago at my friend’s Virginia farm, living in the passionate pauses and loving the line.


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