Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The tide is high.

I'm lying on a beach in Washington State near a place called Willipa Bay with my eldest son. As we drove here deeper into the wilderness across a vast bridge that spanned the inlet with the setting sun turning the water silver and the forest black against the sky, I thought it the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. Now the sun has gone and the moon is high and the waves are lapping gently against the shore, and it's even more beautiful.

He builds a fire on the sand, expertly using cardboard pieces and bits of barbecue briquette he brought with him to the beach. Once these catch he adds driftwood lying nearby, selects music from his phone, and lights the spliff he bought earlier.

Buying cannabis from one of the many legal cannabis stores we passed along the highway in Oregon was one of the things he wanted to do on this trip, so when the rest of us were hitting Safeway again - for yet more food supplies for the RV - he asked if I minded him nipping across the road to a store he saw as we were parking. "Of course not," I said. "You're 21, an adult, and it's legal here, it's your choice." Then I added, half in jest, "I might even join you."

When dinner was over and washed up and the others hit the hay or quietly crept off to a corner to read, he called my bluff. "Do you feel stressed?" he asked. 

"I do, quite," I said, because driving hundreds of miles in such a short space of time in a hot metal box with four men was taking its toll. So he suggested I go with him to the beach to smoke the single joint he had purchased in the cannabis store for six dollars; called Pineapple Express. I haven't smoked marijuana since I was a student and I didn't like it much then, but I reckoned it would be nice to tag along and maybe have a few puffs.

There's no one else on the beach. With the fire flickering and the music playing he lights the joint, takes a drag, then passes it to me. My first puff is a baby one and the second, by the third I inhale deeply and cough a lot. "You did it right that time," he says.

It has no effect at all. I will have to lie and pretend I'm stoned when I'm not, I think. Then I notice something. "Have you seen the waves?" I say, "they're almost up to our toes in no time. The tide is higher and it wasn't before."

"I don't think so, Ma," he laughs.

"No, really." I say, "look at the waves."

White waves are rolling towards us, whiter than they were before and fuller, much fuller, and a lot closer.

"Those waves are definitely coming right at us," I say, taking the joint from his hand and puffing away on it several more times. "In fact... they're quite sinister."

He laughs again.

I lie back on the sand and look up at the stars. They're so beautiful. The whole night is so beautiful -  the stars, the beach, the music, my son. It's all unbearably beautiful.

"How are you feeling now?" he asks, and for a moment I can't answer for the tears, which I wipe away quickly.

"Fine." I say, "I feel fine."

Later we walk back through trees to the RV and I stop dead in my tracks to look up at the sky. A buttery moon is silhouetted against spindly pines turning the whole wood into something like a scene from a Tim Burton movie.

"Oh my God, have you seen the moon!" I say. "And the trees, look at the trees! The moon is the mooniest moon there has ever been and the trees, the trees are so... treeish."

"You're high, Ma," he laughs.

When I get back to the RV, I lie on the bed in my clothes, not remembering that I was just lying on a beach and so getting sand everywhere and then when I get into bed properly later, unclothed, between scratchy sheets provided by the RV rental company, it's like being exfoliated by two pieces of sandpaper.

I can't sleep. I'm wide awake thinking about the fire and the music and the spliff and the walk through the wood with my boy and most of all the waves that were coming straight at us up the beach, closer and closer.  

Love E x


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