By: Tanya Ward Goodman
We spent Black Friday under blue skies. My kids wanted the beach. My visiting mother wanted the beach. We headed to the beach.
Though it was freezing cold, my daughter wore her bikini. “Tanya Ward Goodman,” she said, when I questioned her choice, “I am warm, I am hot, I am burning for the ocean…”
And so she was.
We headed south to the very tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula where there is a wonderful little beach covered with perfectly smooth rocks in every shape and size. We wandered, heads bent, stooping now and again to scoop up a particularly beautiful stone. My boy searched for flat rocks to skip and (dangerously) huge rocks to create larger and larger splashes in the water. My girl (in her bikini) sought out creatures – snails and small crabs – to enclose in little houses built of rocks. My mother sat on a rock, her long, silvery hair blowing in the breeze and listened to the sound of all the rocks clack-clacking in and out with the tide.
We picked up trash and found a shell the size of my child’s fist. We found what might be the breastbone of a bird and lots and lots of lobster tails hollowed of the meat by winged predators.
We did not say, “please stay dry,” but instead brought a change of clothes. We didn’t say, “don’t throw rocks,” we just said “throw them into the sea.”
When we were hungry, we climbed up the steep hill and followed hand painted signs to Walker’s café where the grown ups had patty melts and beers and the kids split a root beer and ate hotdogs and French fries. Walker’s was an amazing collage of imagery from the 1940s through the present – Mickey Mouse and Frank Zappa living in harmony on the walls, a collection of china dogs sharing shelf space with Miller signs, motorcycles out front, and a crew of locals parked at the little counter.
The kids played some kind of made up game with baseball cards and we watched the light change across the wide swath of grass separating us from the sea.
It was a perfect day. I don’t say this lightly. I do believe that there are days that are perfect. Days when one thing slips easily into the next, when the sky is bluer than other days, the food tastes better and the company is rich. There have been other days like this (cake for dinner, trips to the Getty, beers with my father on the sand, garage sales with my brother) and there will be more. And for that I am grateful.