the glorious ocean and catching up with bird

I floated on my back, letting the waves rock me. The sky was blue and I tasted salt on my lips. Earlier, three porpoises swam near this spot. On the shore, L.’s mom Bird held C. on her lap under an umbrella. He looked content in his green hat and red swim suit. “Thank God for Bird,” I thought.

I drove to Ocean City last Tuesday afternoon to see my friends L. and B. and their 15-month-old son, who were in from the Bay Area. Bird and her husband were also staying at the condo. A. had originally planned to come, but work kept him in the office. I was reluctant to go solo, but I was committed. So C. and I struck out on our own.

C. slept the first half of the drive, but then he woke up hungry. I pulled off of Route 50 and nursed him in the car. I had about an hour to go, but C. wasn’t interested in being confined. I tried to distract him with toys, but it failed. Miserably. I sang Old MacDonald as I drove through rural Maryland — past farm-stands with fresh asparagus and peaches — until my voice was ragged.

In Salisbury, I stopped off for groceries and to quiet him, and he smiled as soon as unbuckled the belt. But I still had about a half hour of driving. So once I loaded up on bacon and English muffins and put him back in the car, I had no choice but to listen to him scream. I put on symphony music and white-knuckled it to the condo, and when I got there, I felt raw from the wailing.

L. and Bird waved down from the balcony — “Hi!” “Do you need help?” — and once I was enveloped in two big hugs, I felt better. I hadn’t seen Bird since L.’s wedding three years ago. So when I got upstairs and fell into the couch, she wanted an update: Tell me about A. The baby. Your job? The wedding. We caught up as the little ones played on the rug.

The next morning, after I put C. down for his morning nap, and everyone else was at the beach, I worked on a puzzle in the quiet and drank coffee.

When we finally made it down to the beach mid-afternoon, my feet sunk into the warm sand and I felt giddy.

After my dip in the ocean, I stood in the warm sun with dripping hair chatting with Bird.

She leaned in and said, “I’m going to tell you something because I wish I had known this can happen. When you get older, it is possible for your vagina to fall out.”

“I’m sorry, what?” I said.

“Yes,” she nodded, with a trace of a smile on her lips. “It can happen. It happened to me.”

Bird was in her house in Florida a few weeks ago when she felt something drop inside of her. She went to the hospital and had to get a hysterectomy. L. says it was much more serious than Bird lets on. But now she makes a joke of it.

Later that evening, L., Bird and I talked about vaginas as we worked on the puzzle, drank wine and giggled, sun-kissed and happy.

And the next day, after another short dip in the ocean, C. and I headed home.

Bird walked me down to the car, carrying some bags.

She said, “I’m so happy you’re happy.”

“You look great,” I said. “And you seem really happy, too.”

“I am,” she said. “I am.”

C. slept the entire ride home.

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