The Best Is Yet To Come
She drove us an hour to the ocean, and we ran into the waves, shrieking. We chased them and they chased us back. We exhausted ourselves, then raced up the beach to where her mother sat, on a big towel, with a simple lunch of bread and meat. She slathered each piece of chewy, french roll with a mixture of mayo and mustard that she had brought in a plastic butter container. Whether it was the exhaustion or the salty ocean air, I swear those were the best sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life. And I thought, “this is the best of life.”
It was Valentine’s Day, and not one of us had a date. So, we put on the fanciest dresses we could find in our dorm room closets, piled on makeup, and swept up our hair. We left campus to drive across town to Siam Rice II, for the best and only Thai food I had ever had. We ate and laughed, just us girls, and on the drive home, we put the top down in my friend’s car and sang “Drops of Jupiter” by Train at the top of our longs. As a nineteen year old college student, I remember thinking, “these are the best days of my life.”
I walk to the Radcliffe Camera to study the life of Jane Austen, as a summer student at Oxford. I am wearing my favorite green sweater, listening to “The Weepies,” and walking down a path covered in green and bramble. I inhale the freedom of joy and independence, thinking, “this is the best there is.”
We lay on our backs on a picnic table at twilight, holding hands and treasuring the moment in our chests, like a secret to revisit later, after saying goodnight. And we did. I did. For many years. Thinking that this was the height of all things.
The mist partially covers the castle, which is crumbling into the sea. I am a student at the University of St. Andrews, broken and starting fresh. I sit on a bench in Scotland, overlooking the ocean, reading poetry by Sarah Kay, thinking, through tears, “maybe the best was waiting for me, here.”
Years later, a different face. Different hands. Worn out and world-weary, we kiss, as if to say, “I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And we do. Every day, in the small things, we see that grace has not retired. It was not buried or divorced. It just looks different, like watching him at the barbeque while I brush the dog. Holding hands on the couch while watching “The Office.” Handing out the bread and the cup, side-by-side. Walking to the post-office together, talking about our dreams for the future. Saying “I love you” ten times a day, and meaning it. This is the best yet.
When we move, I worry, foolishly fearing that the best lives in a house. In a sandwich. In a friend. A dress. A promise. But no. I am still learning that the best is not found by looking backwards. It is yet to come.
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