Reconnecting in the Rain

A holiday with less-than-perfect weather still offers a chance to relax – and to go for a muddy run.

Between six kids, four dogs, two jobs, and a graduate school program, my boyfriend Matt and I have very (very) limited time to be together. Sometimes we feel like married people: high fiving between kid pick-ups and stealing away for a quick dinner when we find an unexpected gap. Except that we aren’t married, so I never see him in the off hours, late at night, or early in the morning. Needless to say, time to get away and be alone is pretty precious and rare.

This past weekend we spent a few days out in California, alone together. It took me well into dinner on the first evening to stop looking at my phone for kid texts, and to relax enough to remember how much I love being with him. You know it has been too long when you need to take a deep breath and pause long enough to really see the person you’re looking at. Hi, I’m Kristin. Hi Kristin, I’m Matt.

It takes a day or two to ease into a holiday, and a day or two to ease out, which doesn’t leave much time for the actual holiday, now that I think about it.

When we go out to California together we normally go hiking, walk along the beach, go to farmers’ markets, eat in cafés, and generally live outside in the sunshine. On this trip, we landed in a rainstorm. It was not just a sprinkle, but a slanted, soaking rain that leaked through cracks in the old beams of the house and warranted an array of strategically placed mixing bowls on the floor to catch the flow of water. At first, I was disappointed. It was our first holiday in months – and all this rain? Boo.

We improvised by strolling to the farmers’ market under umbrellas and stopping at the wine shop. We kept a fire burning in the fireplace to ward off the foggy chill. We read. We slept. We played gin rummy. (I lost.) We ate clam chowder by the windy harbour. We bought fish at the fish market and cooked dinner.

And because Matt loves me and knows my tendency towards stir-craziness without exercise, he accommodated me. One morning it was hot yoga at a studio down the street. Another morning we did a bluff run along the land-sliding cliff above a stormy, brown, churning ocean.

The waves were so crazy that the beach had spittle like one of my high school teachers and piles of whipped foam undulating in the wind. We stopped and found treasures like shells and perfectly flat rocks thrown up from the guts of the sea. We splashed through giant puddles, soaking our shoes and splattering our calves and shorts with mud dollops. We hiked across flooded trails, balancing on unsteady fallen limbs and slippery, mossy rocks. We pulled ourselves up steep inclines, crawled under and over newly uprooted trees, and slid down muddy, eroded paths.

It wasn’t the trip I imagined. But it was exactly the trip I needed. I needed to go play outside like a kid in the rain with the man I love but rarely get to play with. I like that we don’t have to shop, or sight see, or drink the day away. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, I like that sometimes, too.

But there is something about physical effort, the pleasure of an earned view, disconnecting from the world to connect to each other, and the ease of companionable silence when you can speak while saying nothing at all.


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