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Today was one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen all season; how delightfully ironic that it happened in Virginia Beach, after a veritable world-tour of a summer. Low 80’s and hardly a trace of humidity in the blue cloud-puffed sky this afternoon as I sunned myself on the sand at 36th street, following an early lunch at the locals’ favorite diner on the strip. So gorgeous, in fact, that it persuaded me to stop by WRV, the local surf shop, which I’ve avoided for years because I’m intimidated by surfer-types (the people who used to mock me in high school; you know the type–tan, blonde, perfect girls, and ripped beachy looking guys with tousled hair) and don’t feel nearly ‘cool’ enough to patronize such establishments. Throwing caution to the balmy offshore wind, I stopped by in search of another pair of the perfect Reef flipflops, as my old ones had worn out during my travels in Spain. Not only did I find the paragon of beach footwear, but I also was flirted with by 15 and 17 year old boys. Ah, to be back in the heyday of my youth and enjoy such attentions.

The sky was clear, the breeze was just enough to keep me from getting uncomfortably hot while baking in the sand, and the North-Westerly wind kicked up the surf enough to make the beach fun. The water felt wonderful, so much so that I felt compelled to inhale at least a pint of it when I missed a wave while bodysurfing. It’s good to live at the beach, even if my time in the water was cut short due to the appearance of some threatening looking cnidarians. I think I might have even gotten stung, but it was worth it.

Drove home with the windows down, new flipflops on my feet, enjoying one of those moments when I’m glad that my parents still live in Virginia Beach. All of the crepe myrtles are in bloom, filling the streets with tons of fluffy branches decked out in light pinks and purples, magenta, lilac, red, white, and plum. All the color distracts your attention from the idiocy of the divided highway/feeder road system that the city planners thought was a novel idea, and all seems right with the infrastructure. It’s not a bad place to come back to. At U.S. customs in Cincinnati, the guy looked at my passport and said “Virginia Beach, eh? That’s tough.” I smiled back and laughed “yeah,” as I walked down the hall; it may not be Malibu, but it’s got its own charm.

Today was so unexpectedly good that I’m still in a little bit of shock, and I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve it. My mother and I almost had another fight this morning, when she tried to carry on a conversation while I ate cereal and read the New York Times. If there’s one thing that I just can’t stand, it’s someone asking incessant questions while I’m clearly in the middle of reading something, so I do my best to ignore and dodge the problem with curt replies. A tearful “are you mad, Thea?” was not an auspicious start to my last Sunday of summer, but thanks to ombudsman extraordinare (Dad), by the time I met them for lunch, we were all able to laugh a little about it, and it blew over. Whew. So like I said, this gift of a day was certainly not in reward for me being a perfect daughter, nor for my dogged work ethic, my accomplishments over the summer, my unthinking kindness towards puppies and small children, nor my charming personality. I really don’t know why, and I’m not going to worry about it; I’ll just accept it gracefully, say thank you, and remain quizzically puzzled by the weirdness of life.

I could get all philosophical and meditate on why it’s so odd that today should come at the end of August, and back in the mundane world of my house and family, when I’ve been living in relatively exotic locales for the past 8 months and experiencing new places all the time. You know, something about coming full circle, the cyclical nature of life, traveling across the the ocean to find that your own home town can be one of the most beautiful places on the Atlantic, crap like that. But that would be silly, and might border on pretension…and I’m never silly and/or pretentious.

So I’ll just sit here with a small happy twist to my mouth, contented after a successful evening in the kitchen (grilled black sea bass stuffed with lemon-basil pesto, cherry tomato and parsley tart, and tomato pesto clams), have a shower to wash of the the sea salt on my hands from cooking, plus the salt left in my hair, and head off to bed. Still not thinking about going back to school, classes, schedules, and all the things that will comprise my reality in seven-days’ time, but today merits a little break, a grateful nod to whatever forces might be out there and want me to have a good time. I can take the hint guys–I may be slow, but I catch on eventually.

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