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<from the trench>

This would be the part where I describe the scenic beauty of southern California as viewed from the beachfront apartment we rented. Unfortunately in winter the city of Seal Beach erects a 12-foot wall of sand to protect beachfront property from high tide. The view from our porch was like something an Iraqui soldier would see from his trench in the desert. You could hear the sea, and on some days you could even smell the sea, but you could not see the sea. If you dug sand and plenty of it, the view was to die for.

This would be the part where I sketch the joys of seaside leisure. Unfortunately, we all got the flu. Maybe it was something in the beach house. Or maybe it was a germ I picked up on the flight from New York. Joan's father was the first to come down with it. Then me. Then Joan. It hit her the hardest and she is still ill, by turns chilled and feverish.

In the early stages of the disease (and our trip) we attended Thanksgiving dinner in nearby Pasadena with 35 or so of Joan's aunts, uncles, and cousins. The effort depleted Joan's strength, and for the rest of the trip she was bedridden. I was lucky enough to make it to the porch most days, where I acquired a tan and thus the appearance of health.

This would be the part where I describe Joan's three-month-old neice Emma, the cutest 'ittle babykins in the world. She is all that, and we spent two days caring for her and marveling at her. That ended when we realized we were sick. The last thing an infant needs are the germs of sick adults. We contented ourselves with viewing Baby Emma from a distance, while her parents and siblings fussed over her.

By Friday I was better. This would be me bringing Joan juice and Advils. This would be me sitting in the sun, staring at the wall of sand, and wondering why Joan was not getting better. Fear breeds dark thoughts. This would be me remembering how five years ago my mother underwent catscans and MRIs in Pittsburgh while Joan got catscans and MRIs in New York. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Joan was diagnosed with MS. This would be me looking at a wall of sand and thinking that my mother died of pneumonia last month. This would be me wondering if Joan's flu had also flared into pneumonia.

This would be two men walking along the beach as I sat there. One man said to the other, "Do you have trouble trusting God?"

This would be Sunday morning, when Joan's family left for their homes in Northern California. This would be me getting ATM cash so the landlord would let Joan and me stay on at the beach house a few more days. This would be me returning to the beach house to find Joan quietly weeping.

This would be Monday, when we reached our doctor in New York and he prescribed a number of holistic remedies. This would be me walking from drugstore to drugstore to purchase them all.

This would be Tuesday, when we cleaned the beach house and began the trip home. This would be midnight Wednesday when our plane touched down at JFK. This would be the line for bags. This would be the line for cabs. This would be 1:00 a.m. when we saw our cats again. This would be me calling the doctor's service. This would be Joan crawling into bed. This would be Joan sleeping. This would be me looking at 1149 email messages, most of them spam. This is me quitting Eudora. This is me going to bed. This is me trusting God.

The author and his opinions.
Copyright © 1995–2002 Jeffrey Zeldman Presents
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