Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Synecdoche, or Possibly Not

          K and I celebrated a quarter-century of marriedness yesterday. To mark the milestone, we spent a long weekend in Napa, eating good food and drinking good wine (because to mark 25 years, much wine must be consumed).

          Unlike most people who go to Napa, our first outing wasn't to a tasting room. No sir. We have spent our years together walking on beaches from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts; from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. So we headed straight (well, with a small detour to Jack London's ranch) to the coast, and took the first beach road we saw.

          The beach we found was a good kite-flying beach. Which is what you say when the wind is so stiff you could lean on it. It also possessed cute little bunny-hill waves, perfect for surfer dads to teach their soon-to-be surfer kids the rudiments, and several wet-suited dads were indeed out in the breakers with kids and boards. It wasn't a good beach for shells, glass, or birds and animals, though, which are my principal beach interests.

          Nevertheless, it was a beach and we were there, so we walked down its bare sand, just at the edge of the waves' farthest reach. There was no possibility of finding shells--as I said, the beach was practically scoured clean, with only a dark, smooth, oval stone here and there along the sand to show that the ocean was giving up anything. Still, I kept my eyes down, out of habit as much as anything. We had walked awhile when, in a moment of what I can only call synecdoche because I am entirely incapable of remembering the  word "serendipity" any time I'm trying to describe a serendipitous moment*, I saw an almost-perfect sand dollar at my feet—the largest one I've ever found in our years of beach-combing.

          I took it as a happy omen for the next twenty-five years.

*"K," I'll say, "what's that word, begins with an "s," means "happy acc-"

"Serendipity," he will reply immediately, because in our family he is the keeper of that word.  Just as I am the forgetter of that word.

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