I love the taste of my hair after a day at the beach. I’d been trying to tame the flying strands of hair as they twisted around in the wind on the drive home. The windows were down to better experience the perfect, warm day – a day on which even if we had air conditioning, we’d shut it off and let in the weather. Because of this, tangled salty little whips of my hair found their way into my mouth, across my eyes and around my fingers while I tried to collect it all into a rubber band.
I turned my head toward him, away from the whipping wind, to tell him about the way my hair tasted, and how it reminded me of every best beach trip I’d ever had. Looking over, though, I decided not to say anything. I stayed quiet because it was loud from the wind, and bright from the sun, and we were all happily sleepy from running along the small pebbled beach, kicking the ball, whistling at the dog, losing the game of chase we always played with the incoming waves. In short: the moment was a nice one, and I didn’t want to ruin it with words.
I looked back to see my daughter beginning to doze in the back seat. The dog was sprawled on the floor, my son read his book in the way-back. We’d just gotten the van that morning and already, on her maiden voyage to the coast, the kids were claiming their stakes on favorite seats.
He’d been wanting to buy a van since shortly after we met – specifically for beach days like this one. Between us and the kids and their friends, we never had enough room in just one car so we’d always drive two, begrudgingly. He’d been dreaming about a gaggle of people spilling into and out of a van, sun in our eyes, sand on the floor, umbrellas, chairs, the cooler, books and something to toss around, all packed in the back.
We’d talked about it for all that time, but who in their right mind can agree to drive a minivan around when they don’t absolutely need to? The excuse of living separately had always been good enough to discourage the idea. But now we live together, and two days ago he found out that a friend of a friend had a van for sale. We looked at the van, rode in it, he drove it. He asked my opinion and I said that it was cute and would certainly fit everyone, but I didn’t have much input aside from wanting to make sure it wouldn’t break down all the time. I suggested researching the year and the model to see what kind of reputation it had, but the decision was his to make. I was just pleased that as vans go, it had a little style to it.
After he’d bought the van and we’d packed it up, I realized that since these days the teenager is ever-busy with sleepovers and movie making and general teenagering with friends, he rarely wanted to join us anymore, for anything. I thought Oh shit, we don’t even need a van anymore. It made me feel a little bit sad.
Then I looked in the back again. I saw the kids, the dog, the stuff in the way-back.
I remembered a day, years ago, when he and I, the teenager and his friend, all drove for over an hour to get to Maker Faire. We listened to Michael Jackson with the huge sunroof open, the teens raising their arms into the air above them like they were riding a roller coaster, and I sat smiling and happy, braiding my hair into two pigtails. He looked over at me, longer than usual, and said over the wind “this is one of those moments when everything feels perfect.”
It wasn’t about the vehicle, or the wind, or which combination of passengers was in the back. It was about stumbling across those perfect moments. And stopping long enough to be quiet, to look over a little bit longer than usual, and notice them.