Staying put—for now

Dove grey satin ripples toward me, shifting suddenly like a water snake skimming the surface. The breakwater-caged-sea ebbs and flows as I attempt to absorb this graceful, milky dance. 

Sunset. Without hoopla, without Academy Award-applauding fanfare—Nature—with some modifications by clever engineers, does its thing and I am blessed to sit here in the calm before yet another storm to witness the ocean’s ever-changing masterpiece.  

One of the benefits of staying put—for now—is the beauty of noticing. Without apology. 

As a writer, paying attention to the simple and complex is part of my job. As such, I find myself sitting on the balcony night and day, brisk or truly cold, for hours and hours. 




Sometimes worrying. 

Always praying.

Every day I toast the morning with a cup of coffee and salute day’s end with a sense of gratitude, and almost always a glass of wine: “Thank you.” 

Between you and me I’ll confess; I resent ever having to leave this paint-chipped corner of the world, now decorated with turquoise pillows and a folding table snatched from my grounded van. Errands. Picking up. Dropping off. I resent getting in the car and leaving this view because while it’s the same, it’s different. Every single time.

It’s funny, but I feel the same when I travel to other places that feed my soul, whether it’s the beaches of Cambria or the Tuolumne River in Yosemite. Home. That’s what it feels like. My heart’s triangle. 

When we first arrived at the Portofino Apartments a month ago as of yesterday, the skies were gloriously cornflower blue; temperatures were in the mid-60s. Typical January weather for the South Bay. We’ve had our spats of drizzle, impressive winds, temps in the low 40s, but by in large it’s been a beautiful SoCal winter. And I get to witness it here from the balcony overlooking the breakwater, my very own, ever-changing, real-life TV monitor screensaver.

Noticing, being still, being alone much of the time while my amigos are out and about working for a living, allows thoughts to rise to the surface. They’re just there. Things you stuffed down and didn’t want to think about anymore. I blame my grey skies British heritage as my mind tends to go grey. 

As I’ve written about before, I’m working on my chronic worry habit. I’ve got all the jingles in my head, “Don’t worry, be happy,” “Live with no regrets.” And I am getting better, thanks to this view that sweeps me away, re-directing my thoughts.

There’s wisdom here. That’s for sure. Simple. Profound. The sun rises and sets. I can take a shower whenever I want (a biggie for van camper me), shop at the organic store up the street, walk along the shore with dear Monet, take a nice swim in the heated pool or relax in the jacuzzi. I can turn right or left, travel in the sky or trapeze in an underground cave. I can take a chance or stay put. I can be brave or stay scared. 

Watching folks cruise in and out of the Marina on sailboats, paddleboards, outrigger canoes and studying the habits of seals and birds, I wonder why I neglected leisure—AKA fun—during my working years? I was too responsible, too work-oriented—unbalanced. So Sunday, I decided change that and do what I’ve been longing to do for years: I went kayaking. 

My bouncy 9-year-old grandson and I climbed into the popsicle orange kayak and we paddled in the waters that, for my entire life growing up in Redondo Beach, I walked past. We laughed and screamed and splashed and surfed tiny waves and cruised past the stinky seals and the mossy breakwater and the Pier. It was an absolute blast.  

Now I’m inspired to have fun every single day. I’m positive it’s the antidote to worry. Yes, I know I’lll slip. But today, before tackling the To-Do List, my priority is to go on a solo bike ride. At some point I’ll jump into the pool and do some laps. And Friday, despite all kinds of challenges including my tendency to anchor, I’m going on an adventure. Leaving the balcony. Not staying put.

Fun is about to get funner.

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