There's always a night before the moment that changes your life.
It was a Friday night, October 10, 1997. I don't remember exactly what I was doing, but I'm sure I was just hanging out in my apartment alone watching a little TV, maybe writing a little as well. My life was only then at the beginning of a major transition that I had barely begun to understand.
Maybe that's why the late summer swell of El Niño had warmed the waters of the Pacific, to draw me to the sea below the lighthouse, to be there on that very day at that very moment...
But it was only the night before and I do remember there was an offshore flow warming the air outside on the balcony. One of the most beautiful times of the year in Santa Cruz is the month of October, at least during the years I've lived here, and especially the first one.
I had noticed her for weeks on the beach. Always alone, as was I. She was usually reading, always wearing a baseball cap, and always looking, well, quite lovely in whatever bathing suit she wore on any particular day.
But it was only the night before and I wasn't thinking of her. I was thinking of the wreck my life had become, how I had rammed myself against the rocky shore and then crawled onto the beach fearful, yet smiling.
Then it was the next day, October 11, 1997, on the beach, when we finally met.
I usually get the words wrong, but our lover lore recounts the fact that the Mama walked up to me and asked:
"So, do you always come here alone?"
And like a fool, I almost didn't answer her; I wanted to be alone actually.
But then, "Yes, I do. And you?"
Six years later we were married, on the same date. Five years after that we started a family.
On the night before the rest of my life, I never imagined how happy I'd B.
Happy Anniversary, Mama. I love you.