Go to San Diego: first marriage, first love, the end of May. See the cliffs at sunset, the last of the surfers. Eat at restaurants, breweries. Fried calamari. Artichokes. Watch the Padres from a dangerous part of the bleachers, down the third base line, where during batting practice a ten-year-old boy took a line-drive in the eye. Watch the boy later—after medical attention, three dark stitches—as an usher leads him down to the bullpen for an autograph: that boy, smiling, beaming, fat purple shiner and all.

Think about pain, its direct correlation to joy. Look at your wife. Beautiful.

Worry about line-drives and time and feeling too good.

“We should sit somewhere else.”


“You see that kid?”

“He got an autograph didn’t he?”

Leave during the seventh-inning stretch. Drive rental car—blue Skylark—down Highway 5 to the hotel. Re-consummate marriage. Even if it’s not comfortable, just for tonight: sleep with your arms around her.

Listen to her breathe.

Don’t think.

Next morning, drive to Coronado. Buy a boogie board. Pee in the ocean. Stay out in the high waves long after she’s gone back to sunbathe. Feel arms blistering with sun. Feel salt. Imagine everything in your life as preparation for this moment: F-14 Tomcats landing at the naval base across the bay, waves rising and crashing, the water cool and green and swirling all around you with motes of fool’s gold. Forget what the guidebook said about Santa Ana winds and San Diego’s June-gloom, a whole month of cloud cover and light rain. Today it’s sunny and calm. The ocean sparkles.

About the author

Steve Edwards' memoir, Breaking into the Backcountry, chronicles the seven months he lived in the Oregon wilderness alone in 2001 and is due out…

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