When they call from the car on their way home from the memorial service, the baby is wailing inconsolably in the background, and so I tell her some of what I have planned to tell you. Oh, the place where I was had the best kind of beach: stony and susurrous, waves sidling up, sliding back. The stones hissed and hissed.
(I'm afraid she might be so worked up that she can't even hear you, my friend says over the line. Don't worry, I say.) I sing-song along: and then we took a funny train up a big hill, up up and up, to the top of the hill where we found a strange frizbee golf course and it was frizbee with a z and it was the strangest place for a frizbee course because the wind was so strong, so so strong, that any frizbee would just have disappeared. And there were sheep and we could hear them say baa! baa! and so we walked along a narrow muddy track, going along a cliff, and the person I was walking with was afraid of falling off the cliff, but I wasn't, which was unusual because I am usually the one who is afraid of falling. And we walked toward the sheep who were saying baa! baa! but then the person I was walking with got too afraid and we had to turn around in the mud, and I could understand that, because sometimes I get freaked out, too. And so we turned around, and then we found a sign that told us cliffs can kill--only they can't, unless you hit them as you fall off of them. And then we found the strange frizbee golf course, with a beacon in the middle of it, only the light must have been stolen from the beacon because all that was there was a wooden post. And then we came back down the hill on the funny train that had no driver, and then we had pizza for dinner, even though I hadn't planned to eat dinner, because somehow dinner seemed like a good idea.
And right about this time, I realize that when I draw a breath, no anguished sound rushes in to fill the air between us. She has quieted, even before I had a chance to tell her about the strange red-and-white buildings up on top of that hill, or about how the sun had been spotlighting the sea, or about the castle ruins on the headland, or about how the land shadowed away into ever-paler blue up the coast. Or about the impossible green of this world. Or about the paper-thin slices of cured meats at the deli, or the olives I could have eaten until I was sick, or the hot sandwich of crusty bread and Spanish goat's cheese and sun-blushed tomatoes and tapenade that made me miss the tapenade and pepper and provolone and salami sandwiches I used to make on ciabatta when I still lived in New York. And I haven't told her about the light on the pastel terraces fronting the seaside promenade, or about the flags of minority European nations--Wallonia, Sardinia, Corsica, Cornwall, on and on--lining the beach, in Welsh solidarity with other countries-within-countries.
And I haven't gotten us back home again, back past Ely in the distance, to the Saturday-crowded platform and the airport-bound passengers forcing in their luggage before we can even get off the train. But I've gotten far enough, far enough for now.