ad:tech Miami May Not Be Forever, but Boy, Friendship Is.
I was in the hallway late yesterday, typing between sessions and recharging my computer at one of ad:tech's precious outlets, when a shadow fell across my monitor.
"Hello," she said. We made small talk. Suddenly she cried: "Wanna go to the beach?!"
No one in the last five years has asked me to go to the beach. I don't like sand, and I also don't own shorts or flip-flops. (These were decisions based on principle, not convenience.)
I contemplated this in a moment of brain-lapse as the silence grew uncomfortable. "Suuuure," I said slowly. We exchanged numbers and Paige walked off.
A few hours later, Steve Hall, Brent Terrazas, Paige and I -- a small, proud ad:tech-blogging cult -- went to the beach. Paige had absorbed a $14 mojito and was festively dressed in a blouse and tiny shorts. She reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina -- you know, when she goes sailing with Bogey.
Steve and Brent made a conscious effort to look J. Crew casual: big canvassy man-shorts, slippers and button-downs. They did a lot of foot-shifting and standing-around with their hands on their hips.
For the repugnant walking-through-sand part of our journey, I took off my high-heeled boots, peeled off my socks, rolled up my jeans and followed gingerly behind the others. The air was salty, the sun low in the sky, and the horizon looked clean and empty.
"We have to touch the water, right?" Steve said.
"Yes!" Paige exclaimed. Far in the background I made a scornful noise, which Brent humored with a sympathetic glance.
The water drew near. Topaz waves slid back and forth with almost exaggerated regularity. "Look at the WAVES!" Steve shouted.
"You call these waves?" said Brent. "You sad East Coasters."
Paige plunged her feet into the wettest part of the sand, waiting for the waves to come back. I put down my shoes and inched toward the water.
Toe dip. Ooh. Warm. It was nothing like the beaches in Northern California, where icy water makes swimming an agonizing waffler-fest of will and terror.
I put my feet in.
"You can get to Cuba in two hours from here by boat," Brent said.
"I think I can see it," I kidded.
The waves got meaner as the wind picked up, and I'd waded too far to avoid the ones crashing toward me. I tried stumbling back, but it was useless. I was soaked.
And It was amazing! I raced back up the shore, then down again and up again, playing tag with the sea like a puppy sorely inept at playing "catch." More than once the waves attacked with success, and I almost fell over, screaming with psychotic glee. Steve, Brent and Paige froze and watched.
"You're like a kid who's never been to the ocean," Brent said. Then he made some sort of palsied gesture, coupled with shrieks, that I think were supposed to pass for me.
"You guys hungry?" Steve said. "Let's go have dinner."
"No!" I exploded. My hair was soaked, my blouse clinging to my skin and my underpants almost certainly waterlogged. I couldn't go back to the way things were. But I did feel hungry, so I waded reluctantly out of the water and followed the others.
The ocean had become my friend.
We went to Jerry's, whose menu is so overwhelming that you long to push Alt+F. Steve and Brent had sandwiches, Paige got a pizza crust salad and I had steak and lobster. At some point during the meal Paige made a sound like, "Ohhhhh kyooooooooote!"
A pair of homeless kittens had approached the table, nosing for scraps. One was small and gray; the other was black and had cheeky eyes.
"Don't feed them," said Brent.
Paige fed them. Brent glared. "I'll stop now," she said, splashing two more man-sized crumbs onto the concrete.
We resumed dinner, then one of the kittens leaped onto a ledge beside Paige and drew close.
"It's so cute!" Paige exclaimed. She reared back, met eyes with the cat and made this long happy noise. I froze to watch; she kept going, and the volume kept escalating. She was SCREAMING with cute overload.
"You're screaming at the cat," I said. And with admirable effort, Paige ceased.
"I'm such a fan of animals," she said. I love Paige.
We ended the night at a club called Dream. The party was sponsored by Terra, which Brent doesn't like for reasons he'll explain in a different post. It had an '80s theme -- Flashdance playing on a projector, "Let's Hear it for the Boy" blaring overhead -- and at some point, channeling an earlier incarnation of myself, I leaped up and down and did the cute-overload shriek.
Around 1am the musical selection devolved into pure bomba. Brent seized me and tried twirling me into submission, which was a terrible failure, then we all decided to go home.
Brent, Paige and I walked off into the humid night, arms swinging, all chummy and whatnot. (Cue Flashdance soundtrack music.)