Familiar city, familiar SUV, familiar street.
Familiar shotgun seat, familiar window rolled down, familiar.
It’s as if nothing has changed, only the passage of time. Many pages have been flipped behind the calendar since I’ve been back here.
The gravel road twisted and turned in the familiar ways. I inhaled the salty air and exhaled it back toward the ocean.
I glanced down at my watch. We had about ten minutes before the sun would sink below the horizon. We were chasing the sun.
Just like old times.
We got to the end of the road where it winds into a cul-de-sac at the entrance of the Wildlife Refuge where we used to come to watch the sun set over the bay. She applied pressure to the break as we both looked questioningly toward the closed gate. They never used to close the gate.
The exit gate, however, was still open.
My friend threw the SUV into reverse. For some reason I thought she was just going to call it quits and drive us somewhere else to watch the sunset.
Instead she tossed the beast back into drive and floored it through the exit side. I wasn’t expecting that.
An unfamiliar reaction to an unfamiliar situation.
My friend can sometimes be a lady of few words, but when she speaks. It’s worth listening.
It makes her overall presence that much more powerful.
She just casually shrugged her shoulders toward my excited and confused reaction– rolling it off like we hadn’t just essentially broke into a National Wildlife Refuge. We figured we were okay, though, as there were still a few guests roaming around the refuge.
To be safe we decided, before leaving the SUV and racing down toward the docks, that we would just claim to be park rangers if anyone asked. We both figured we were convincing enough— her in her Chacos and Patagonia pullover and me in my Birkenstocks and overalls. Not to over generalize or anything, but we both figured we were outdoorsy/crunchy enough to pull that stereotypical persona off.
We raced down toward the docks to watch the sunset over the water. We darted between different lookout points— running through walls of flying bugs and dodging any foliage that appeared in our path.
Our familiar spot. Watching the familiar waters ripple in the light breeze.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen a sunset or sunrise– each one is different.
This time the sky was painted in all different tones of orange, purple, and pink. The sun kissed the the horizon with its golden glow just before the night erased the colors from it’s canvas.
The whole time I watched the sky put on its spectacular performance I just thought how we could have missed this view, if we hadn’t entered through the exit.
And, thank God, we didn’t miss it…
I make it a point to watch sunsets as often as I can (sunrises too), but that had to be one of the more beautiful ones. One where the photographs I took couldn’t even do it justice to capture just how spectacular nature is.
It was then, when I realized:
Sometimes it’s okay to pretend to be park rangers.
Sometimes its okay.