Manhattan Beach Gift

By Carrie Luger Slayback

The next day my daughter gave me a grand gift.

It all started with Rachel’s next comment around the Thanksgiving table. “I’m having neighbors over for a holiday night-cap,” she told us.

She’s a relaxed hostess. I am not.

“Are they going to be on your patio?” I asked.

“Hadn’t thought about it – but my apartment’s teeny so, yes, they’ll spill outside.”

I could hardly finish dinner for the urge to spring up, speed to her place and scour the patio. Her apartment is a true beach cottage. Translation: outside her door is a sandy weedy mess. She enjoys the hammock, outdoor fireplace, string of lights and ignores the grime.

Rachel lives in Manhattan Beach, California, a stunning city of steep streets terracing tall homes, each with its own view of a wide strand, boardwalk, bike trail and miles of blue Pacific.

As motivated as I was to tidy the patio, I dreaded parking on Manhattan’s steep inclines. Actually, parking anywhere in her beach town is a problem. Visitors circle, eyes glued to the curb-side, searching for any place to leave a car.

Still, I resolved to meet the challenge and found parking on level ground quite a distance away. Good trade-off. I’m a runner, thankful to walk blocks to her house rather than risk a panic attack parking at a 90 degree angle outside her door.

Rachel and her Rhodesian Ridgeback greeted me, and I got to work. Satisfaction! Pulling weeds from still-moist ground, sweeping, clipping dead branches and setting things right feeds my need for order.

As I worked, an upstairs neighbor came to the gate, “Sunset’s at 4:45, come on.” Another reason to live in Manhattan Beach is this sunset ritual I’ve observed in past visits. Neighbors and dogs gather along the boardwalk to gaze at the disappearing rays.

“You bring your running clothes?” asked my daughter. I dropped the trowel, “YES!” I said, happy to move and shed Thanksgiving excess.

“It’s low tide. Let’s run along the water’s edge where it’s level,” she said. We changed and charged toward the crimson sunset.

Imagine running on a soft sand surface, hearing a succession of gently lapping waves, breathing moisture-filled cool air and experiencing the darkening waterside hush.

We jogged along, picking up speed with the exhilaration of the moment. We passed other runners, photographers with long lenses focused on surfers in the sunset and one fisherman.

Filled with bliss, I ran in unison with my daughter through the mist, the soothing end of a day.

Approaching our three and a half mile “turnaround,” we saw the Hermosa Pier illuminated for the holidays. We sped toward the twinkling pier on a glass surface created by receding water on wet sand. We ran easily, heels sinking into the reflected sunset beneath us.

“I will remember this all my life,” I told Rachel, thanking her for the extravagant gift of moving through time immersed in shining scarlet beauty – and no clutter.

About this writer

  • Carrie Luger Slayback Carrie Luger Slayback is an award winning teacher and marathon runner. She writes on fitness and family matters. Her articles appear in the Los Angeles Times, and her series on preparing for the L.A. Marathon, 2014 was published in The Daily Pilot. Carrie lives in Newport Beach, California, with her husband and Chihuahuas.

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One Response to “Manhattan Beach Gift”

  1. Linda Lug says:

    So warm and visual. One can’t pass up an ocean sunset or warm sand under her feet.
    It was a true mother-daughter delight. I don’t think I would have had the same experience with my son.
    Loved it!

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