If I could, I would take pencil to paper and draw the sight of the houses lined up like soldiers at watch along the cliffs in all their salt-water taffy colored glory. I’d color in the fourteen, fifteen, maybe even twenty different shades of blue between sea and sky, only to run out of options when it came time to add the greens on the hills and in the hedges and in all the little nooks and crannies that only greens can grow. I’d sketch the birds in flight along the coastline, the sandy beaches running right up to rocky ridges and back again, dipping here and there as the waves softly etch away the lines and wrinkles of children’s footprints and sandcastles and leave behind a peppering of sun-bleached seashells and round, smooth stones. Somewhere along the coastline I’d run out of paper and realize that no amount of shading could begin to convey the fullness of life that billows forth from the father laughing at the surprise of the son who was so wrapped up in the antics of the dog nipping at the waves that he himself got caught up in the frothy foam. Shades of grey and pink and yellow and brown can’t capture the warmth of sunkissed sand or the tickle of the breeze on a bare shoulder.

If I could, I’d bottle up the tantalizing smell of a bonfire on the beach, crackling with the aroma of sausages roasted to near-bursting. Add in a hint of the sea-salt laden air, mixed thoroughly with the scent of the breeze and happiness and sunshine and the panic of the last minutes of summer slipping through the fingers of the holiday-makers. Popcorn and cotton candy and the dark, heavy scent of tired bodies lacquered with sunscreen and booze and cigarettes. The smell of the sun going down. I’d scoop it all up and pour it in a jar and realize as I labeled it that there simply was too much left out to truly encapsulate something as dense, as complex, as a single moment in time.

If I could, I’d record the sounds of tired children whining and their mothers breaking under the strain of many too many sugared highs collapsing all at once as they try to get their offspring and vacationing paraphernalia loaded back into the family car where it doesn’t seem to fit as neatly or as nicely or at all like it did when carefully loaded not even a week ago. I’d mix those with the sounds of flip-flops on the boardwalk and the scuffle of one more game of soccer in the sand; with the slurping sound signaling the end a milkshake and the whispers of young lovers strolling hand-in-hand, hip-to-hip down the strand in search of some small, still, secret place to call their own. Lay it all over the reverberating whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the tide coming in and falling back as it has since the beginning of time. But as I went to play it back I’d realize that I’d left out “Sweet Caroline” sung with a Welsh lilt and and the strum of a guitar for accompaniment and at least a million other necessary sounds, rendering the entire piece flat and useless.

What’s that old song? Something about taking a feeling and bottling it up and making a million? If I could, that’s what I’d do. And then I’d spend the million on R&D to figure out a way to translate life into characters on a page so that I could share the honeymoon bloom of seeing and feeling and exploring a place for the first time.

Tomorrow is our last full day in the US. I keep running that idea around in my head, trying to figure out how it feels. I had such good intentions this morning-- get the laundry done, pack everything we don't need for the next day and a half, put the boy down for a nap, haul out the laptop, and let my fingers sort it all out. Put into print everything we've been doing so that I could neatly separate the activity from the feelings and figure out an honest answer for all the incredulous faces.

It was 10am before I gave up on finding quarters in our luggage and headed down to the lobby for change. It was another half hour before we shuffled our bags of clothes into the laundry room only to discover that I had two boxes of softener and a box of dryer sheets but no detergent. Soft and fragrant does not equal clean in my book and so it was back to the room (drop off the dirties), back to the lobby (trade softener for detergent), back to the room (pick up the dirties), back to the laundry room (sort the clothes, fill the tub, realize the time, shove the carefully sorted piles all into the same washer), and then back to the room for lunch. Put the boy down for a nap, back to the laundry room (oops, forgot the dryer sheets), back to the room, put the boy back down for a nap, back to the laundry room ($#!t, lost a quarter), back to the room, put the boy back down for a nap, return to laundry (guess what? the dryer starts without quarters!), back to the room, put the boy back down for a nap, wash the dishes, argue with the boy about why a nap is important, pack up some un-necessities, back to the laundry room, fold the dry stuff, throw the dampies back in (so that's where that quarter went to!), back to the room, give up on the nap, pack the folded clothes, race with the boy down the hall to the laundry room, fold the rest of the (basically) dry clothes, race back to the room, fix a snack, pack, quick trip to the lobby for a change of scene, answer my cell phone and discover hey! it's 5:00 and Josh is in the room trying to figure out where the hell we are and what do we want to do for dinner?

It's 10:58 pm, CST. Tomorrow is our last full day in the US. I keep running that idea around in my head, trying to figure out how it feels.