We’re at the far north end of the island, past the hotels, near the wild sea grasses cling to the dunes. The beach here is covered in seashells. You can walk barefoot, but you occasionally step on one that pointy in just the right way to make you jump for the next piece of sand.
Her: let’s walk to see the old Hotel des Baines.
The dog kept up, smelling every pile of seaweed and rolling on each dead crab he found. His preferred scent. The shells were still underfoot, so I walked in the shallow water, warm like soup.
Up ahead, families played along the shore of the free beaches, and an ice cream truck doled out granita, beers, drippy chocolate covered cones one by one. The dog stops to smell it, but he’s more interested in other things. The beach is a playground of scents.
We get closer to the old hotel, now looking more like a ruin, its elegance decaying into the sand, the salt ruining the stone it was made of. It makes me remember old movies, people who knew how to dress well, knew what to do when. People who knew to take a vacation — a good long one.
Her: Marriott bought it. It’s going to be renovated, sometime.
We walked on, towards downtown. By now, it was getting near the time of a day a drink is in order. The sun, shifted behind a few clouds, and the wind picked up.
Her: I’ll get the things and meet you at the usual spot.
A bit later, she shows up looking like she’s had time for a shower and to put herself together. I still have sand and seaweed stuck to my leg, and the dog is dripping wet, but it’s all fine here. The esplanade is busy with bikes and pedestrians enjoying the cooler evening air. I watch her walking down the sidewalk, unaware that others are doing the same with the nonchalance of someone who belongs here.
At the table
Me: I ordered for you.
Me: Campari, of course.
The waitress brings the drinks with a big bowl of potato chips, the dog grabs one, then falls asleep at our feet. The parade of splendid summertime souls continues. My sunglasses are spotted with sea-spray, my feet are brown, my hair is a mess, and for just a split second I realize that I’m the luckiest guy in the world.