In the nightstand are snacks: two cans of mixed nuts, a box of Samoas and Thin Mints– yes, Thin Mints!, in the familiar green box with two sleeves of divine cookie confection. Thick white towels are piled on the wooden chair while San Diego postcards and a book of stamps lie on the desk. Extra toiletries fill a basket in the armoire and a half dozen pillows adorn the king sized bed.
Skylights in the family room and kitchen project the illusion that the lights have been left on, and everything from the orange rug, the rumpled canvas couches, the butter spread walls evoke warmth and comfort. Great glass doors open to the garden where trees hang heavy with oranges, lemons, nectarines, limes, dragonfruit. Tomatoes, basil and strawberries crowd the beds and lush red roses hang from an overgrown tree.
Eight boxes of cereal line the counter (in hopes that everyone will be tempted by something), but most days, my sister whips up waffles or blueberry muffins as an extra indulgence.
We tried to master the art of the Pride and Prejudice clean-up. You know the scene where they spot Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy walking towards the house and whirl about cleaning the rooms in minutes? We didn’t clean for visitors, but simply to keep the dishwasher running and the table clear enough for long games of Risk, discussions of our secret superpowers and ‘What animal would be your patronus?’ (mine is a lioness).
Could there be anything more flattering than family who regard your visit as the greatest event of the summer? Cousins who created a paper chain in March just to count down the days until your arrival? Is there a sweeter hostess than my darling sister?
Our days were spent at the beach, the pool, Balboa Park (which pained my photographer soul– I must, I need to, go back on a morning or at dusk when the light hangs heavy and low), easy runs and long talks. My camera lay idle while I curled on the couch and read three thick novels:
Does everyone who visits San Diego dream of moving there? My mind is thrumming with plots and plans to find a blue-shuttered cottage and bask in the perfect climate that leaves my skin soft, curls Mary’s hair into gentle ringlets and requires nothing heavier than a sweatshirt or a raincoat even in winter.
I’m tempted by the beach, the buildings, the exquisite photographer light– but most of all by my lovely, luminous sister.