Last week, when I could feel the beginnings of the nasty flu that has been going around my neighborhood perk up in me, I took to the beach, hoping to get that Pacific ocean air in me, to stave it off. Or maybe just to remind myself that I live in California, and I can go to the beach at will.
I did not move here for the majestic beauty, I came for friends, freedom, and inspiration, and the natural wonders have been mostly a bonus. I grew up around natural beauty, after all, in New England, where we don’t make a big deal about it. Every once in awhile, though, it’s nice to really WOW that staid New Englander right out of me, and tap into the hyperbolic Californian in me that looks out at the ocean, mountains, and trees all in one place and says, “This is the best place in the entire world.”
The beauty reminder worked. The immune boosting didn’t. I’m now in Day 6 of the Virus-From-Hell, and none of the adults I know that have contracted it are 100% better yet, some of them well into their 2nd week.
I think this is how the zombie apocalypse starts. Arm yourselves with echinacea, my friends.
I let myself be truly sick in bed for 2 days, which is saying a lot, for me. On the 3rd day, I fled to Big Sur, because, I figured, I could be horribly sick in bed with the West Wing (SO MANY brown boxy suits and beepers!), or I could be horribly sick in the redwoods. With my girlfriends. On a trip we’d been planning (and replanning) for months. I was not about to bail on account of a little Death Virus.
My friends were nice enough to have me along, despite the amount of mucus exiting from my nostrils. I was so out of it on the way down, that they all laughed when I finally said something, which was, “DON’T move to Cherry Hill!” Then I expounded on all the excellent donut shops in Long Beach, as we drove down the coast.
We arrived at our little cabin, which was directly overlooking a river, and found a dead sparrow right at the base of the entrance. It was perfectly preserved in its stillness, as it must have just dropped there a few hours before. My friend Amanda and I buried it, marking the site with a few branches and stones.
Hours were spent catching up with one another, playing games, and procuring juice (for me) and wine (for them). We drank in the millions of stars. We ate at ridiculously excellent, unpretentious restaurants, and several of the ladies took little hikes around the area. We reveled in the noisy quietude of the forest. We felt like proper nature women.
I did not feel better. However, the beauty of California was feeding my spirit, and the strengthening of relationships was feeding my soul. So, my physical body just did its thing.
My husband and daughter were having the time of their lives back in San Francisco. It is such a huge gift to know that I can leave them and they will thrive, enjoying their own little rituals and deepening their daddy-daughter bond through carne asada quesadillas, “late” night hangouts with friends (Mama would have had her in bed at 7! She stayed up until 8!), and wild hair days, no clips or combs in sight.
I came back to them, still in a lot of pain from this virus, but refreshed by a change of scenery. If I have to be sick for so long, at least there’s California, right outside my door, waiting for my return.