The smell of rain is thick and suffocating. It fills my lungs and I gasp a little. It’s that thick.
In the morning, the surfers were out in the water. We watched them from our balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. They formed a jagged line out there, small on their surfboards, and they glided, moving with the same rhythm as the waves. I don’t know whether they spoke or yelled to each other; the waves drowned out any noise outside their own rhythmic whoosh as they hugged the sand, then slowly crept back into the deep.
A soft rumbling of thunder tells me the pool is out of the question, something my son is not too happy about. Instead, we climb into our car and take a small drive, stopping first at Starbucks for some much-needed coffee. There, my son orders a cookie, then pays for it, by himself. He’s almost four and proud of his accomplishment.
My son is hungry, so we head to Pistilli’s Italian Restaurant and New Jersey Style Pizza in Melbourne. We’ve been to this place before and loved it; this time is no different. We scurry from the car into the restaurant; it’s started drizzling by now, a small mist that is enough to dampen but not soak. Inside, the lights are dim, the curtains half-drawn. Large posters featuring The Godfather and The Sopranos frame the entry way. A sign in the front tells us “Welcome – Please Seat Yourself” – and so we do in a booth by the back, near the kitchen.
The decor is simple and Italian – pictures of wine bottles and grapes, Italian chefs, a small decorative sign that says “Good Food, Good Wine, Good Friends.” Tammy, our waitress, rushes from table to table; she’s alone today, but she doesn’t miss a step or mix an order. Soon, we’ve ordered our meal: two slices of cheese pizza each for my son and me, and chicken parmigiana with pasta and a side salad for my husband. While we wait, Tammy brings us some bread, and we sit back, listening to “Shake, Shake, Shake Senora,” which reminds me of the movie Beetlejuice every single time. In the kitchen, the sizzling, clanging, and chopping seems to move to the song.
When the food gets to us, we dig in. Perfection. My pizza is just right: not too much sauce, and it’s more sweet than spicy. The thin crust is not crispy, and the cheese stretches when I take a bite. This is how I like pizza. And the slices are large. My son eats an entire slice; I eat two. My husband likes his meal, too, though he eats half of it, along with half of a pizza.
We are back in the apartment. Our stay is courtesy of family, and we’re grateful. This small break by the beach is what we needed to unwind, to let the ocean sweep our worries and stress and take it back out to sea, so we can revive and renew our energies.
My son, who claimed – “I’m not tired! – in his strong, defiant little voice, is passed out on his air mattress. His soft snores tell us he was, in fact, quite tired. The sliding glass door is shut, but the waves’ rhythmic lullaby reaches us and I think we, too, will take a nap.
Outside, it’s still dark, though the east is showing some breaks of sunshine peaking through puffs of clouds. A solitary surfer remains in the water, sitting on his board. I wonder what he’s waiting for, bobbing with the waves.