The weather has turned crisp with temperatures low enough that we had to turn on the furnace. My morning loops outside have left me with apple cheeks and a runny nose. It is the kind of weather I first experienced on a trip that I took to Seattle with Chris ages ago. I am reminded of that trip ever time Fall rolls around here. I remember that first morning in Seattle when Chris and I walked to the REI mother(ship) store. We hadn't packed coats, only light jackets and sweaters. My hands were so cold. By the the time we reached REI, the tips of my fingers were numb. It was too early for the store to be open, so we ducked inside a coffee shop just across the street. It was our first time in a coffee shop where each cup of coffee was made individually. We'd never seen anything like it. Now these coffee shops are our norm, dotting every neighborhood and branching into the even fancier drip coffee. I bought thin cotton gloves at REI.
We experienced similar weather on our trip to Portland, more so on the day we drove to Newport Beach. This is when Chris noticed something. He discovered it only later, while he was reviewing pictures he'd taken during both trips. It was something about my face whenever I was near the ocean. The images he captured of me both in Seattle and in Newport all capture a face full of genuine pure joy. There's no hamming it up for the camera or silly faces, just me being truly happy. The day we were on the beach in Newport, it was windy and cold. My nose was runny and by all accounts I should have been miserable because I hate the cold. But in the picture Chris took, my head is thrown back in laughter, my hands are overflowing with shells and bits of wood. I could have spent forever there and there was a time when I dreamed that I would do just that. Even though I am quite happily content with my current place of residence in the middle of the country, I am thankful for that dream. I am thankful for those moments where I was the happiest I could be and how those moments of joy were independent of who I was with at the time.
I'm not saying that dream of living on a coast is gone for good. Who knows what the future holds or where retirement will take me or us. Dreams change and shift. What I do know is that joy can be found easily in something as simple as a walk on a beach.