If we were “kissing friends,” I would have laid one on him.

But…ah…we’re not.
So I didn’t.

Thankful for the opportunity to spend time with friends in the Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach areas recently.

I love exploring the North Carolina coast.

And, I love how I always take something home with me…a shell, a lesson, a delightful memory.

I had this feeling…

In the pit of my stomach, I knew that wearing my new-to-me hat on a day like today was more of a liability than a help.

I should stash this in the car and wrap a doo-rag ’round my head – and call it a day. Stop trying to be all cute and fashionable, and just be smart.

But did I listen to myself?
Oh, no.
That would have been too smart.

Really, I was just excited about my new finds from The Fairy Circle. And I really, really wanted to wear them.

But it was a stormy kind of day at the beach.

The kind of day when the wind has a mind of its own, totally unpredictable, aggressive – more spiteful than playful.

I kept fidgeting with it – my hat. Trying to test the strands to tighten it as much as possible. Pulling it down intermittently when a gust tugged it up more than I felt comfortable with.

Had I been on Mom Duty, I would have foreseen the future and called it: “Go put that hat in the car. The wind is going to tear it off your head…and do you really want to run after it?”

But I wasn’t on duty. In fact, it was an adults-only weekend, and I was…am…less vigilant of my own circumstances.

(I should really work on that.)

We were sitting and watching the newest storm cell roll in; soaking in the gray and blue – the majestic colors of a sea storm. Time was nigh – that much was certain. The colors, the wind, the waves were all alluding to it…

As was, ironically – in a perfectly timed soundtrack to life’s moment – the music.

Storm Comin’, a song by The Wailin’ Jenny’s was the last thing I remember hearing…

When that storm comes, don’t run for cover
Don’t run from the coming storm, no there ain’t no use in running

When that rain falls, let it wash away
Let it wash away, that falling rain, the tears and the troubles

When those lights flash, and you hear that thunder roar
Will you listen to that thunder roar and let your spirits soar

When that love calls, open up your door…

When that storm comes, don’t run for cover
Don’t run from the coming storm, ’cause you can’t keep a storm from coming

…before the inevitable happened – a strong gust tore the hat from my head and tossed it away from where we were sitting, down the beach , before I could even take a breath.

It happened so quickly…and like it was thrown by a strong arm.

Silly, woman. 
When, when-oh-when, will you listen to your gut?!

For a nanosecond, I considered letting the wind take it and have its way.

There was no way I was going to run after it (look at my face…wait, you can’t – but you can certainly imagine my expression…), and I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to catch up with it even walking as fast as I could. It was moving fast. Like, FAST.

And, wouldn’t you know it, on top of it all, it had just started to rain.

But I wanted to try.
I had just gotten the thing, after all.

I hoped that maybe someone further down the beach could/would help this girl out. So, I hopped up and looked at one of my friends, who has seen the situation unfold.

“I’ll be back in an hour or so,” I sighed at her.

And I heard her giggle behind me as I walked – watoosied – as quickly as possible, through the thick sand, after this darned hat.

It was really bad timing.

I mean, if this thing was going to fly off my head, couldn’t it have done it about 20min before? Like, before it started raining?

Ugh. I am going to get so wet for this stupid thing. Is this really worth it?

I kept pressing forward.

My hope that some kind soul down further on the beach would see and stop this wayward item was dashed on the rocks as the hat took a steep diagonal angle towards the dunes.

The dunes that you’re not supposed to walk on, mind you.

Oh, DRAT! Please, please-please-please, don’t go far into the dunes. PLEASE – GET STUCK in the grass. 

It was a spur of the moment, totally genuine prayer; it was a “I-cannot-believe-this-is-happening/what-am-I-doing/is-this-worth-it/oh-god-I-don’t-want-to-break-the-rules/I’m-gonna-be-walking-forever” kind of prayer.

I felt him.

That’s the only reason I looked back.

I guess we could say that I wanted to see how far I had gone…evaluate my watoosie’ing skills, see how far I was going for this latest consignment acquisition. Sure. Maybe.

But, really, being totally honest, I felt him.
Sure. I didn’t know it was him, until I looked back saw him.
So, maybe I should say, I felt something – a presence, a “not-aloneness.”

My friend was behind me, making his way through the thick sand, hot on my heels.

And I felt very…not alone.

Encouraged by his kind act, I picked up my pace.
This hat was mine. MINE, by god. And I would have it…

…but not back on my head…more like safely stashed away in the back of the car…(having learned my lesson the hard way)…

And glory be – it got stuck, in the grass, at the start of a dune…

Though I had to walk past the “Do Not Walk Pass This” sign, I didn’t have to walk far and I didn’t have to walk over any of the dunes.

My friend waited for me at the boundary.
Waited to walk by my side back to our area.
To walk with me in the pressing wind, the pelting sand and the pouring rain…

And I just loved him even more in that moment than I normally do.
(Which is saying something, because I love him a lot.)

And at the same time I was elated not to be alone, I felt really bad he was dealing with the consequences of having followed me.

Absolutely winded (seriously, this is not my most in-shape phase of life), I tried to get out the words…

“I’m sorry. You didn’t have to…I mean…”

I stopped myself.

Was that really want I wanted to say?! 

“What I’m trying to say is – thank you.”

OH. MY. GOD. 
Could I be any more lame?

If I had any spare energy to FACEPALM myself at the moment, I would have.

He totally understood what I was trying to say, though…
Just one of the reasons why I like him so much. He pretty much always “gets” me, even when I’m bombing on the communication side of things.

There wasn’t a lot of reason to talk after that – the storm was upon us. For real. In earnest. And we were moving as quickly as possible back to the car to take cover.

Finally safe from the elements and having a chance to start catching my breath, I indulged in a chuckle over the whole thing. I looked over at him and grinned big. He grinned back.

Oh, Life. 

Wet, covered in sand and winded beyond belief, I just chuckled.
Because what else could I do?

He cracked the windows and turned on some music, and we watched the storm envelop us.

I applied a fresh application of lip gloss…cherry flavored. And he popped a mint.

It would have been the perfect moment for a kiss. It would have been a big-fat, wet one…all minty and cherry-flavored, full of salt and sand and laughter and life.

A “facing craziness together and laughing about it on the other side, all victorious” kind of kiss.

But…

We don’t kiss.

But…

I did think about it.