A bed so soft my back was protesting by midnight. I woke at intervals, all night, did stretches, disturbed Martha. For an hour maybe I tried the floor, but the carpet, though thick, wasn't quite thick enough, so eventually I got back in that ghastly bed. When first light finally came I got up and did my back exercises for a second time, an elaborate version. Sat shamatha for twenty minutes, facing floor-to-ceiling windows that opened on a blank view of fog. The far static of the surf was the only hint of the sea.
Yesterday the husband of a client turned out to be someone I knew at Informix, before it was bought by IBM. He was still in the business, working for a software company downtown; he had just come back from a year in London, managing their office there.
"That must have been fun," I said.
He looked at me.
"I mean, being in London," I said.
"Oh, yeah," he said, brightening. "London was great."
I gave my little pocket-history of how I left IBM and became a massage therapist.
His wife turned to him. "Maybe that's what you should do."
He looked at her the way he'd looked at me a few moments before. "Become a massage therapist?"
"Not that, but do something completely new."
He made a noncommital noise, and I changed the subject.
It was a hundred degrees in the Valley when we left. Two and a half hours later, we were here at the beach, a ghostly blue sky sometimes visible above the fog: sixty-five degrees, maybe. Gray wraiths twisting around the beach pines; a cool misty breeze lifting the smell of the sea to us.