A few months ago, I rose early one morning. I cleaned my lenses, packed my camera and drove to one of my favorite, secret, secluded beaches.
The beach was deserted.
It was a beautiful, spectacular, morning.
I was thrilled to have the beach to myself, but not surprised. It was early in the day still, and it was off-season.
I took a leisurely walk down the beach, snapping photos as I went.
After quite awhile, I turned around and walked back in the direction I came from.
And that's when I first saw him.
From a distance he was no more than a mere speck of red, sitting on some rocks out on the point.
"Annoying," I thought.
How dare he show up and ruin my solitude.
I walked toward him, because my final destination was the cove on the other side of the point.
As I approached, I knew he was as aware of my presence as I was of his – and yet, he ignored me.
He sat there, taking in the beauty of the morning, with a cup of coffee in his hand.
I crossed the path behind him on my way to the cove.
"Beautiful morning," I said because I felt I had to say something.
"It really is," he agreed, still not looking in my direction.
And then, when I had taken one step past him, he asked, "Where are you going?"
I turned to face him.
At the same moment, he stood.
Our eyes met.
I've thought about that moment over and over again.
What happened next made no sense.
I felt startled … stunned, actually.
He had a similar reaction.
He actually took a step backward, as if in shock.
"It's you!" my brain seemed to scream, but instead I just stared at him wide-eyed.
And then, we were talking … making inane small talk.
I'm going to the cove.
You're a photographer?
I write about, and photograph, The OC.
Do you live here?
Yes, right there … (with a wave of his hand towards the homes on the sand).
It wasn't physical attraction.
It wasn't romantic.
It wasn't sexual.
It was unexplainable recognition of a total stranger, and it was so strong it was almost frightening. There was no question we were both experiencing the same sense of overwhelming familiarity.
"I know him, but I've never met him. This doesn't make sense," I thought.
But at the same time, for some reason – it did.
After a few minutes, I went on my way.
I felt shaken and disconcerted by the encounter.
I hiked to the cove.
I began shooting photo after photo. Rocks, tide pools, waves, the bluffs … click, click, click went the shutter. With each photo I wandered a little further down the beach.
About twenty minutes went by.
I knew, before I looked up.
I could feel him watching me.
I turned back, towards the point … now fairly far away from where I was.
He stood there at the tip of the rocks.
He was wondering who I was, just like I was wondering who he was.
We stood there, staring across the distance, for a few minutes.
I turned away first. Raising my camera to my eye, I began shooting again.
In time, I made my way back up to the point. It was time to head home.
He was gone.
My eyes searched the houses … one of which, is his home.
"Who are you?" I whispered.
All these months later …
I still find myself wondering.
© Twenty Four At Heart