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  • The day after my grandfather’s memorial service, we all needed some release from the emotional intensity. I’d felt it building up in me, not a straightforward sadness, but an odd indecisiveness, as if nothing I did fit right. My whole family was getting that way, grating on one another in small, insignificant ways. My mother suggested going to the beach.

    From Palo Alto, it’s a drive of many twists and turns up and down La Honda road, through the hills of live oak trees with the sprawling homes of the wealthy tucked behind them, visible only by the glimpse of aquamarine swimming pool or extending rooftop. But, on the other side, the beige, treeless hills that hug the coast rose before us, and then, suddenly, Half Moon Bay, glittering in the afternoon sun. Leaving our car to bound down to the beach, we became giddy, chasing seagulls, leaving our shoes in a pile by the parking lot and running, barefoot. My sister, the ballroom dance enthusiast, begins to tango, partnerless, along the beach, her feet leaving long, swooping grooves in the sand. Then she spreads a towel as if it were wings, the wind making it seem plausible that she might actually become airborne. My cousin skips in the surf. My mother admires a crab shell almost as big as the spread of both her hands. And I keep feeling the urge to run, hard, until it seems as if my chest won’t contain my lungs anymore. We leave with sand coating our legs and feet, collecting on the floor of the rental car. We're quiet on the way back, struck with the kind of calm that is the product of beauty and exertion.
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