Yesterday I blogged the preface to our 48 hour 14th anniversary adventure. One thing I left out was that in addition to our marital struggles, I had angst over the culture's recent careening off the slippery slope of moral relativism into destructive definitions of sexuality, family, and even humanity itself.
I wasn't thinking about any of that when we got in the car on Sunday after church (we have learned that it's better to start our adventures away with worship) and drove to the food trucks to pick up lunch for the 2.5 hour drive south. Overwhelmed by long lines, too many choices, the desire to get on the road, and a craving for a deli sandwich, we snuck into the nearby Togo's and shared a turkey and avocado sandwich as we headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
We arrived at The Sandpiper at 3:30 pm with just enough time to settle into our room and then go for a walk before the tea and cookie hour, at which the innkeeper explained, there would also be sherry. Or maybe that should be Sherry, the temptress. We made it the block to the beach before my husband immediately found a fishing spot on the rocks where I joined him briefly before meandering back along the seaside to admire the lovely cottages.
Soon tea and cookies were calling my name. Sherry beckoned me, too, her amber body glistening in the crystal decanter, so I grabbed her, pulled off the stopper, and took a good, long...whiff. I set her back down, poured a cup of tea, and ate all of the cookies. Not really, although I did get one of each kind, so I could taste them all, and then I gave the plate to my husband when he came in. We took the leftover cookies back to our room and got ready for dinner.
Years back, on another anniversary, we had dined at Casanova - "Carmel's Most Romantic Restaurant." We remembered its charming patio and delicious food, so decided to return. This was to be the start of a series of divine appointments that continued throughout our adventure. There is really no other way to explain it...unless we were in the Bible Belt, but in fact, it was just the opposite kind of place, as those of us who live on the California coastland know all too well.
We ordered two mocktails and several small plates (the entrees were priced out of this world, and as with the cookies, we like to get in as many flavors as possible). Before the food came, we said a prayer, holding hands like we always do - I was wearing the mother of pearl cross my daughter gave me, and which I wore throughout the trip. After that, the man in the couple seated closest to us, but sort of across the aisle, glanced back and smiled. He and his wife were talking animatedly, and as we were sipping our soup (tomato, my favorite, even though the waiter had said it would be spring onion!), we heard a familiar name - Francis Chan. We didn't want to interrupt because it was clear that the husband was telling his wife a story, so we continued on with our delightful, albeit meager meal, savoring spinach gnocchi gorgonzola au gratin - light pillows pasta with a rich, succulent, brown crusted sauce.
When our waiter brought the carpaccio (husband's favorite) and a cheese plate with artisan bread, we struck up a conversation with the neighboring couple. We had that thrill that believers get with the unexpected discovering of kindred spirits. Yes, they were Christians, and they, too, were celebrating their anniversary - five years farther along than us - also with three children, and they lived in the east bay. We talked about our faith and about the culture and we had a beautiful time of mutual encouragement. They said goodbye and our dessert came - a raspberry flourless chocolate mousse cake. It was good, but bland in comparison to the sweet fellowship we had just enjoyed.
We capped off the evening with comic relief - lured in by the nostalgia of the trailer, we went to see Pixels, a movie made for our generation. You know you're getting old when your childhood becomes "classic." Seeing the film was like a memory from growing up in the 80s - like riding bikes to 7-11 with friends, getting a cherry coke slurpee, and chewing Now and Laters on the way back. It feels fun at the time, but you're ready for a nap afterwards (well, at least now as an adult, you would be). Which was perfect, since it was time to go back to our hotel and rest up for the remaining adventure and at least four more divine appointments to come. Go on to part three...