It’s one mile and some change from the beaches to our house.
As the crow flies.
As the seagull flies, too, I suppose.
Our house sits on a hill. We have no view (save for a peek-a-boo glimpse of the bay from the backyard), but the ocean is near equal distance to us on three sides – north, south, and east. During gray, wintery days (or what passes for winter on this temperate peninsula), a small band of seagulls regularly visits our neighborhood. Well, “band” might be overstating things. They congregate in pairs or trios. They’re chubby and wobbly and charming – white and gray with bright plastic yellow beaks.
I have an untested theory that it’s when the tide is high they’re most likely to visit. I haven’t exactly been keeping careful records. But it is, I know, on colder days that they take a break from the stone-strewn shore and make the short flight to our potholed street
Their visits tickle me like nothing else.
It could be because they are oblivious to how out-of-place they look. Simply said, a seagull plodding down a neighborhood street is a surreal sight – a wonderfully odd, happy, comical afternoon interruption.
They also amuse me because I know I’ve been that seagull.
I do a fair amount of solo travel. (Gig work is like that.) Whenever I’m in an unfamiliar town and am hungry, I look for the crowded parking lots. The rule of travel is that busy restaurants tend to serve the best food. The locals know. So, I’ll step in, hold up one index finger signifying to the hostess that, yes, I am my own company tonight.
More than once, I’ve been led to my table only to look around and realize I am out of place. The music is too hip. (That’s not the right term anymore, is it? Further proof that I’m not “with it.” Which is also not the right term.) I am surrounded by the young and the beautiful – the staff and the guests alike. And, me, I’ve committed the unforgiveable sin of getting and looking older – of being entirely out-of-step with clothing trends and hairstyles. And language, apparently.
I am as misplaced as a seagull in my neighbor Jeff’s front yard.
Thankfully, one of the great benefits of getting older is that there is an inverse relationship between hairline loss and gained perspective. And, anymore, that perspective tells me it’s a beautiful and liberating thing to get to be a seagull. (Besides, I’m a big fan of seafood.)