I’d been planning to put up a post tonight about some meatballs that June has been into lately (MEAT! MEAT! she yells; I think you can imagine it). They’re delicious, served in broth with peas and grated Parmesan, ugly but molto Italian. But then, possibly because it is June 1st, the sun came out and the day got hot, and meatballs felt very wrong. Instead, first thing this morning, I texted a friend to propose a late afternoon trip to the beach with a picnic dinner for our two babies, who are really now toddlers.

And then Brandon and I ran into a couple of new friends and their two children at the farmers’ market, so I invited them, too. I am the least spontaneous person on Earth, so I had to mark the occasion. This post really could not be about meatballs. This is a post about the beach.

I’m from Oklahoma. Where I grew up, it is flat. I have no idea what it’s like to grow up near water, or islands, or mountains. Sometimes when we’re at the beach, or even just driving around town, I think to myself, WHOA! June is from Seattle! It sounds obvious, because it is, but I wonder how this place will shape her, what it will be like to grow up near the water, someplace where you can pick blackberries and catch your own Christmas Eve crab, someplace way up north, way out at the edge of the country.

Being out on book tour was incredible – thrilling and invigorating and heady and thank you all(!) for coming out and being there(!) – and it was also the longest I’ve been away from home in a couple of years. I’ve always loved to travel, and to travel alone, and I still do. I knew June and Brandon were fine, helped along by grandparents and friends, and I didn’t worry. I want her to have sturdy attachments to people who aren’t her parents. Plus, it was good to have time to sort of live my pre-June life again. I liked that life a lot.

But there was one big thing that I missed about having her around, and that’s this: being with a young child forces you to be radically present. You can’t zone out, replaying this morning or planning for tomorrow, when you’re at the beach with your kid, because while you’re zoning out, she’s going to put her sticky sandy hand in your friend’s Tupperware of roasted asparagus. You’ve got to stay there. You’re on. I’m glad for that, even if I’m not very good at it. My friends got some extra texture with their asparagus tonight.

It’s good to be home.

P.S. Hey, Kirkland, I’ll be at Parkplace Books this Tuesday night, June 3, at 7:00 pm. See you there?