When I was little my family used to go camping every Memorial Day weekend.
We’d drive 70 miles up the coast until we reached our favorite spot of all: Plaskett Creek. The sites there are grassy–some nestled right up against the woods. Just across the highway is Sand Dollar beach. Every year we’d pick up the tide table and every year I’d swear up and down that this year–this year!–I’m going to do the grunion run.
I never did.
I wanted to. I wanted to see such a sight with my own two eyes: the iridescent fish littering the shore after midnight–setting the beach aglow. Mirroring the starry sky.
But first there was dinner cooked over an open fire. Uncle Monte’s ghost stories. And S’mores.
In the end, I could never stay awake. The grunion? They run way past my bedtime.
The road–Highway 1–to the campground was windy and long. It creeps along the steep coastline, where you’re but one wrong turn and flimsy guardrail away from careening off the rocky cliffs into an angry ocean hundreds of feet below. The road winds and cuts deep into the cliff-side, each turn blinding you to what lies in wait ahead. Until you round the bend and see that–in fact–it opens up again for a stretch.
Those cliffs have been on my mind.
Some days I feel like I’m trudging those hills–enduring those blind turns–anticipating the destination but wondering, all the same, how I’ll ever get there.
Other days I feel like I’m standing atop the highest point and I can so clearly see the entire road snaking along beneath me. I can see the drivers faithfully navigating the path–blind to what lies ahead. I want to shout to them: be careful. Slow down. You don’t know what’s up there. I do. I can see it from here.
There’s a middle place if life. The time when you recognize that you’ve both been, and not been. Seen but haven’t seen. Know but wonder if you’ll ever, really understand.
Still trying for that grunion run.
Still swearing up and down that this–this!–will be my year.
I’m going to make it. One of these days.