“We should take a walk down to the beach,” she says.
I look out the window, out to the ocean. It is 64 degrees out – a good fifty degrees warmer than home – but it is damper, and windier, than this Minneapolitan is accustomed to. Having packed very light, I have a choice between flip-flops and winter boots.
“Let me grab my boots.”
And so we walk. We walk and walk. I have flown to Texas specifically to meet with her: Shelly, my longtime blog and Facebook friend, is as warm and funny and intelligent as she appears on paper.
She tells me of Pablo Neruda, of tamales eaten with mustard and $300 chanclas. I tell her about Michael Chabon and lutefisk and how many layers of clothes you can wear before you can’t bend your limbs.
She points out broken sand dollars and dead blowfish on the beach and I bend down to inspect them.
Eventually, we head back to the condo.
And we walk and walk, our faces pink with sea spray.
“It feels like the complex should be around here somewhere,” she says.
“If it’s not,” I say, “it should be. I don’t think I’ve walked this far in years.”
We laugh. Shelly is a weight lifter, a woman with regular exercise and hydration habits, whereas I am a yoga fan with an affinity for home-made fudge.
We are lost, however, one dune looking pretty much like another. We choose a boardwalk, then a street, but nothing looks right.
“Wait here,” she says. “I’m going to see if I can figure out where we are.” She heads off down the street, and the next time I turn around, she has turned a corner and is out of sight.
A grackle lands on the palm tree nearest me.
“Tick-tick-tick-tick wheeeeeeee,” he bellows.
I look up. “What?”
“Well,” I say, “that’s what you say now.”
A man on a ladder on the building nearest me stops his painting to look down. I look over in time to see him shaking his head. Poor lady.
“I hardly know that bird,” I offer.
He says nothing and returns to his work.
“We overshot it!” Shelly is hustling her way back. “We overshot by quite a bit!”
“I asked some workers,” she says, pointing vaguely from the direction she’s come. “Four guys came off their ladders to help.”
And so we walk some more.
And 45 minutes later, legs sore and still laughing, we eat lunch without thought to caloric intake.