It’s ten in the evening, we’re down on the beach, and they are all around us.
Puppy waves doggy paddle towards the shore in a long, long line of overlapping arcs.
A dome of light on the horizon – the last remnants of the sun’s toffee orange blush.
Los Lances as it bends away towards Punta Paloma and the two headlands up there, the more distant one a paler grey, the closer blacker, both their bends reflected in the mirror water that floods the beach here often.
The merest sliver of a waxing moon, exquisitely fine, like a thumbnail rip in the nylon sky.
Its delicate curl is echoed by the motor parachute that swoops up and down the beach, the pilot taking care each time he passes to leave us our space.
We stand out in the ankle depth and everything appears equidistant. Nothing farther away than anything else – Tangier just as near, and just as remote, as the chiringuito on the other side of the beached water where people are gathering in the music. Its four white Chinese Lanterns more moon than the moon.
It’s fully night on one side of us; we’re using up the last of the light here as the earth pulls us from the daytime for another circuit of its circumference. We’ll be back this way tomorrow of course, but it won’t be the same. Never is.
We watch the motor parachute and K remarks that the pilot doesn’t really look like he knows what he’s doing. I disagree though. If she’s right he’s taking foolish risks, flying very low at times and banking hard, close to ground, to change direction.
As he does so the parachute throws him out in a centrifugal sweep that would be dangerous for the error-prone; he needs to pull up as he levels out or he’d find himself walking. His run along the beach is a series of steep ascents and drops. As he passes over the water he lets his feet pick up some spray.
On the y axis and the x – up and down and up and down.
Today is a very still day at the end of a very windy week – five or six days of furious levante.
That’s a lot of wind.
And an appropriate drum roll.
Ninety nine stories – one or two before we came here and the rest dispatches from our new life.
Thanks for reading.
This is the hundredth.
It’s an anniversary of sorts and might prompt an appropriate format here. A progress report of some kind – One Hundred Things I Have Learnt…A Hundred Reasons To…The Top One Hundred…
But it doesn’t feel like that tonight. I think about the more or less one hundred weeks that have passed since we reinvented ourselves, and our own learning curve. It didn’t begin at zero – we weren’t born the day we came to Spain – and it isn’t a question of continuous ascent. The accomplishment isn’t a matter of achieving a steeper, quicker gradient. A clean climb.
It’s more like that guy up there with the sea air in his face. Doing dangerous stuff. I bet he couldn’t tell you exactly why, couldn’t pin it down with words, wouldn’t want to. He just wants to feel the rush in his stomach. Up and down and up on all axes.
This spot has become a flashpoint for us. Feet in the water we’ve stood here a number of times now. The same place but always a different light, a different time, a different story. It doesn’t get better, improve, progress. None of those words will do. I will struggle here too, with the language.
Something accrues though. Something deepens. Something. But it’s of the moment, in the indescribable differences each time we stand here cold-footed. In our ability to enjoy each occasion without comparing it to the last, or the next.
We’ll take a trip soon that we’re excited about. Further adventures in Spain. The first time we returned to Tarifa having set out from it we were disorientated. It felt strange to come back to a place, and call it coming home, that still felt foreign to us. Exotic. Abroad.
It isn’t like that now. We’ve spent the week taking shelter from the wind with friends and their boisterous children, barbecuing sardines and eating pork chops with our fingers. The seeds of a social network after two years of self reliance. Think about that, wannabe expat. Two friendless years. Nothing but ourselves and the love we feel from remote family locations to keep us going.
And keep going we did. And keep going we will. When we set off this time, north to Galicia, we’ll hand the house over to J, an uncle, and E, his lovely wife. While we drive and bicker and eat and see and love, they will take care of our domesticity. Open and close our windows and doors, water the plants, feed the cats.
Something about having guests cements the sense of belonging to a place. This time, it will certainly feel like coming home.
I keep my eye on the pilot. You might say there’s no rhyme nor reason to what he’s doing. You might wonder how you’d measure his progress. You might ask what the point is.
But what’s the point is an easy question. Too easy. There’s no challenge in chipping away at something, pointing out the pointlessness. To question the upping and downing. What’s the point misses the point.
Futility, with added risk, may not, on the surface of it, seem like a very good idea.
He sure looks like he’s having a good time though.
That’s all it is in the end, isn’t it?
Up and down and up and down. The rush in our stomachs. A bit of luck.
A lot of wind…Follow @RobinJGraham