Watching the sun rise above the Sea of Cortez is a humbling experience.
Anyone can catch a sunset. Any drunken tourist stumbling from happy hour on the beach to a liquid dinner at some bad chain restaurant can glimpse the sun sinking down past the horizon, briefly toast to the moment then carry on. A sunset is a public celebration. But a sunrise, that’s a private one.
While I sat there in my little hotel terrace chair, feet extended over the railing and bathrobe clutched around me, it gave me time to reflect on the weekend.
There was a teary goodbye with the children, and then 24 hours and two flights later, a margarita deposited in my hand within seconds of pulling up to the hotel to help make it all better. There were the dusty knick-knack shops of San Jose del Cabos and the frightening tourist trap of downtown Cabos San Lucas. (Do people really go all the way to Mexico to eat at Johnny Rockets?) Someone even got in a good culturally insensitive crack in about the Home Depot on Highway 1 and how the parking lot is probably filled with Americans looking for work.
The resort where the wedding took place provided, bar none, the single most indulgent, exquisite poolside lounging experience of my life. When the staff sated me with homemade fruit popsicles, dabbed at my temples with a cold, lemon-scented towel, and then personally sprayed me down with cooling oxygen mist (I know!) I nearly died. I was torn between the liberal guilt of enjoying such luxuries and thinking hm, maybe I should turn Republican, master Wall Street, screw the poor, vote to dismantle social security, and come here like, every week for the rest of my life.
If you ever have a chance to save half your yearly income and stay at one of the top hotels of the world I highly, highly recommend it. If you ever have the chance to sell one of your children and do the same, I also recommend it. Me, I just slummed it at the Hilton and crashed the fancy place.
Considering everything I saw and drank and ate over 4 days, the images that are most vivid in my mind are still those of the wedding:
A candle lit at the beachside ceremony for grandparents no longer with us.
A brother nervously preparing a best man speech and asking for the proper pronunciation of “fortuitous.”
Three adult siblings in an impenetrable group hug, consumed by emotion at the youngest giving away her son.
A beaming 89 year-old great-grandmother hoisted above a crowd in a chair for a hora which would soon segue into a traditional Indian dance.
A table of six cousins crying with laughter into their cocktails, hardly able to relay to the spouses the childhood stories of “shows” performed at family reunions.
Two beautiful sisters toasting a stunning bride without a hint of ill will or envy.
And then it dawned on me as the sun grew higher in the sky, casting shadows across the water from the early morning flights of the seabirds – this is what it’s all about. This is the reasons for the stretch marks, the leaking boobs, the sleepless nights turned to bedtime debates, the bottle battles, the preschool anxiety, the Elmo. This family business, this inarticulable experience of connecting and belonging to something far greater than ourselves, this is why we do it. This is what we’re all here for.
In 20 or 30 years, it will be my girls hugging at a wedding, toasting their cousins, laughing about childhood, rolling their eyes as their parents and aunts and uncles dare to do the Hokey Pokey on the dance floor. And those moments will live longer than I do. Longer than even they do.
Thank you, sunrise. For the light. But also for the clarity.