photograph by Jessica Dofflemyer

It’s day four in my feel-good place and everyone is coming unraveled.  Grown ups climb trees, businessmen dance unconditionally and poets recite rhymes of blooming roses.

I speak with the Ambassador in the Big Sur sunshine.  This is a man who appreciates metaphors and has the endearing habit of telling people what he loves about them.

He’s been here for over a decade.  I cast my eyes to the curving coastline and ask him, “Do you ever take this place for granted?”

“I don’t think I do…”  He pauses taking in our surroundings then points up in the mountains behind us.

“My house is up there and I start the mornings with this little ritual.  I’ve got this coffee maker, you know the kind that stops and lets you take the pot out before it’s completely done brewing?  So I’ll have gotten out of bed and I’ll be standing there at the coffee maker in my kitchen…in my house in the morning – it’s kinda cold – so I’m shivering a little.  And then when it’s ready, I’ll quickly get my first mug of coffee and hop back into bed.  It’s warm under the covers.  And I have this view…and I’m looking out my window, holding my warm cup of coffee…and I’ll just be filled with this gratitude.”

I smile at the Ambassador through watery eyes.  The days here have softened me to a liquid pool of tender feeling.  Simple words swell my heart to overflow like a fountain.

“Every morning, there in my bed I’m just washed with this feeling.  It’s like 15 seconds of grace.”

“Every morning?”

“Every morning.”

Perhaps it is the grace he speaks of that overtakes me.  I am like a gushing river that will flood its banks if my throat opens to make a sound.  I can only look down and breathe as tears slide down my face.

“I can see that you are really touched by what I’m saying.”

I nod and speak quietly, “I really love this place.”

“Come here.”  He gestures me to standing and wraps his big arms around my frame.  My face presses against the stitching of his t-shirt on which is embroidered the name of our locale.  It’s as though the land itself is hugging me, the Ambassador embracing me on its behalf.

For a moment I am enveloped.  Enfolded by deep valleys.  Held by old trees.  Soothed by cold springs.  Surrounded by succulents.    Grace.  Heart.  Home.

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