Sunday, May 31, 2020

DISCOVERING LAGUNA BEACH

After our 25th anniversary in the blue ambiance of Dana Point, we decided we would go slightly north to Laguna Beach. We stayed in a hotel just across Pacific Coast Highway, but our room had a balcony that overlooked the ocean and it included an in-room jacuzzi for two. We got there late in the afternoon and discovered one of the advantages of Laguna Beach, which was an abundance of restaurants serving many kinds of cuisine, and most of them could be reached by walking.  We could choose a restaurant, have a good walk before dinner, and even if we had had a couple of drinks we could manage to find our way back to the hotel without worrying about which of us would be the designated driver.
Laguna Beach is a wonderful place for walking, although it is hilly in town, but there is so much to see wherever you go, whether on the beach or along Pacific Coast Highway or one of the side streets which are also filled with interesting stores and restaurants, juice bars and candy stores.  We walked along the beach every day, after we'd read our love letters to each other. We'd talk about our relationship and our parenting as well as making plans and dreaming of our future together.  Occasionally we would bring one of our talks for an upcoming World Wide Marriage Encounter Weekend that we were scheduled to give, and it was easier for me to write or revise it when I wasn't under the gun to get it done in the midst of the chaos almost inevitable in raising six children.  
We also walked in town, usually in the morning, but if it was foggy, we'd wait until later, on our way to find a bite of lunch or to check out some of the restaurants that were in the hotel listings. I had such a sense of freedom as we walked together, holding hands, with no feeling of being rushed and nothing particular to do other than decide where to go for dinner.  The one time we took the car out was Sunday morning when we went to Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church. This church was named for our daughter Catherine's patron saint, so we were very fond of the church from the beginning. We went there every year and one of the priests turned out to be someone we knew from the nearby St. Michael's Abbey, a Norbertine Monastery. It was nice to have that connection when we were away from home.
I always loved arriving in Laguna Beach and opening up our windows so we could feel the ocean breeze blow its salty fragrance over us.  Wherever we walked we could smell it, and at least one of the evenings, we ate at a restaurant with an ocean view.  For someone who grew up in Texas and Oklahoma and who had never seen the ocean until I was thirteen--and then it was the Atlantic--it always seemed exotic and I gulped up the ocean air as if had come in from the desert and were dying of thirst. In the early years of our stays we even talked of retiring to Laguna Beach. Much later I realized that while I loved the sea air and the crash of the waves on the beach, by Monday of Memorial Day Weekend I was always reminded that you could never turn off the tide, it would be coming in forever, and that while I loved it for our getaway, I preferred our inland home where we didn't have to contend with the marine layer most mornings, but could count on sunshine most of the year.  It was lovely to make our escape to Laguna Beach, but there truly is no place like home.

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