One more thing
“It’s not just about the sun. I can’t really say exactly why it makes me so happy. It’s all of it. Even driving there. No. I’ll go one step further. Just the suggestion of the word makes me goose pimply, and tingly, all over. You saw where we hung the sign you gave me for my birthday? It wasn't my idea alone to hang it there. Dan agreed wholeheartedly. Do you think he had an ulterior motive when he jumped up and hung it over the entryway to our bedroom? .....boomchickawawa....” Alexa nodded in the direction of her bedroom and chuckled in an octave unfamiliar to her best friend Marilyn.
Painted in a cerulean shade of blue, overlaid with white wisps, the background of the art decor introduced the clouds dancing in the sky. Marilyn knew her friend. More often than not, if she needed to buy a gift, she’d head over to the Bee Crazee gift shop downtown. Shopping local was her thing. The shop wasn’t just about bees and she had wondered if they made the right choice in naming the establishment. Stepping over the threshold, the jingle of the bell signaled her arrival. The pleasant ding-a-ling, mixed with the slightly musty aroma, enticed her in an unexplainable way. Having lived in Roslyn her entire life, she could not count how many times she had walked through that door, and would not know how many times she was carried through, because her mother loved to browseabout town with Marilyn papoosed. On a mission, she proceeded right past all the bee insignia to the left hand corner of the shop, crammed and stacked with various shells, tiny anchors and ors, and everything else nautical. There was always a new arrival. Pleased, she looked up and saw one; the artistic sign with the letters BEACH could have been custom made for Alexa. “Done.” She said out loud to herself, then thanking the owner of Bee Crazed on her way out, she smiled contentedly as she closed the door.
“It looks great there. It compliments the grey walls and white moulding. I love what you’ve done with the place. I say if Dan likes you walking into the bedroom daily all goose pimply and tingly, you are a lucky lady.” Marilyn winked, tisked her tongue, made that corny six gun gesture with her finger, before she poked Alexa’s funny bone.
“Nah.” Alexa said coarsely yet affectionately. “In my dreams. You know me. I sometimes say things for the shock affect. Gotcha! Dan and I have been together too long for nightly fireworks. But back to your question about what makes me most happy…..
The two friends had grown up in the same town and had been friends since kindergarten. They didn’t get together as much as they used to since Alexa moved to the south shore of the island when she got married, but they made a point of celebrating each other’s birthday, conveniently six months apart, and here and there in between. After her home renovations were complete Alexa called Marilyn and asked her to come down for lunch and a walk on the beach. Marilyn admittedly wasn’t a beach bum, she was more of a museum, art gallery, indoors bookworm sort, but never said no to a day at the beach with Alexa. Likewise, Alexa would grit her teeth while driving away from the shore, but if Marilyn invited her to a gallery opening, she was there. Between bites of chicken caesar salad, and sips of raspberry iced tea on Alexa’s patio, the question was hurled by Marilyn to Alexa about happiness. Maybe not as far back as kindergarten, perhaps somewhere between fourth and sixth grade, the two best friends began their philosophical banter. “What do you think happened to the dinosaurs?” “Why are there so many languages in the world?” “What do you think happens when you die?” “How do you think the world began?” They both turned to each other with their inquisitive minds, because home for each of them was not a place for questions. Home for them was the bottom of the ocean, dark and suffocating, but as young girls, sitting outside stuck to the grass and each other, they made their own home base while contemplating the mysteries of the universe.
There is that curious period of time from birth to around three or four that adult humans cannot recollect, so Alexa would not remember that one day in time, but could she have subconsciously remembered the way she felt on that perfect ten beach day with her mother and father? Maybe, maybe not. It was her third birthday, June 29th, and her parents promised to go one whole day without fighting. “For the kid,” he said. “For the kid,” she said back mocking him, but he was too inattentive to notice. Alexa’s mother bit her tongue and thought, “What, 2, 3, 4 hours tops before we’ve all had enough sun and he’ll be ready to dump us, running off to the bar. I can do this for my daughter.” Alexa’s father lived fully in the moment, and wasn’t quite ready to settle down as a family man, nonetheless, he was serious about enjoying his daughter’s birthday at the beach. And they did. The three musketeers, as all for one and one for all, they built sandcastles, buried each other, collected shells, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and potato chips, washed down with grape drink, but Alexa’s favorite part of the day was the water. The ratio of air to water temperature was perfection and since Alexa was too young to stand in the surf alone, her parents held on tight, each to a tiny hand, saying wee and wee between giggles over and over, lifting her up as each wave came. Nary an unkind word was said the whole entire day and Alexa didn’t even think about sucking her thumb or snuggling with her teddy. There was an old polaroid taken on that day by another beach goer, it’s whereabouts unknown.
″…..even the sand at the beach makes me happy. I’ve heard people complain about the sand sticking to them. Not me. Bring it. I can literally sit on the beach all day, reading, while circularly massaging my feet into the sand, until the hole gets too deep. When it does, I fill it in, and then start the process all over, not wanting to leave, giving myself five more minutes again and again. And I can’t go to the beach without plunging. My head has to go all the way under the water, and I’m often compelled to splash my remaining body parts around like a five year old. Ask me if I care who sees me or what my hair looks like when I come out. What can I say Marilyn, other than, the beach truly is my happy place. And you? What makes you happy? Wait. One more thing. Truthfully my friend, having you in my life makes me happy. Happier, or almost happier than the beach.” And then it was Alexa that poked Marilyn in the funny bone.
“Tell me my friend, what makes you most happy? Alexa repeated the question with sincerity. “I think we should go sit on the grass and talk some more about this subject.”