The Purest Thing

There are moments you don’t go looking for, that simply arise from nothing, or from some alchemical combination of circumstances you didn’t foresee. They come upon you like a quick breaking thunderstorm, or like a chance encounter with something wild and possibly dangerous.

I looked over at her, rolling down the slim strip of pavement, the water streaming down her cheeks, splashing off her shoulders, tires kicking up a mist. She looked so beautiful, so perfect, and she looked at me and laughed, and I knew that she was as happy as I was.

We’d been sitting on the cloudy beach, poking around in the surf, wading, talking, when the sky grew suddenly a shade darker and the rumble of thunder rolled up the bay and told us we were too late to get home and dry. Even in that moment, there was a cheerful resignation to the mood. We’d be getting wet.

We gathered our things and got the kids on their bikes and pushed off from the gravel parking lot, even as the first darting drops of rain began to slant across the road. Everyone else on the beach was skittering into their cars, wipers already going, then fighting to get past us in the narrow lane that led away toward the highway.

I had stopped caring that we were in the way, stopped caring that we’d be soaked in a minute. I had entered some spontaneous state of bliss.

Still, I didn’t know how the wife and kids would take this. The boys were legging it, putting everything they had into the pedals, and other than thinking that they might not find their way back to the house, I let them go from my mind too.

We turned out of the flow of cars and up a dirt road and then onto the bike path.

That’s when I looked across at my wife, slowly pushing her way along on a badly-fitting cruiser, the wind and rain only making her more and more beautiful by the moment. That’s when she smiled at me, squinting against the raindrops, and I felt the pure joy of the moment and perfect love, and I wished for a second that it wouldn’t end, that the house could somehow be farther away.