Ten years ago, my husband and I traveled to San Diego for a family wedding. We also spent a few days sightseeing. One afternoon, we rented a tandem bicycle to ride along the waterfront. Our memorable experience has inspired the photo essay below, which features characters from my novel Sandra Cahill’s Best Friend.
“Come on, Emma! It will be a blast,” Sam insisted.
Emma looked at the silver blue bicycle and then at her three friends. Rachel and Sarah each gripped the handle bars of a cruiser bicycle. Sarah’s bike was sea green, while Rachel had opted for flamingo pink. Both cruisers were equipped with a wicker basket on the front.
Emma tucked her shoulder-length dark hair behind her ears and glanced again at the bike Sam had chosen, a tandem bike. Finally, she nodded and said, “Okay. But I call the front seat.”
“This will be awesome,” Sam said as they wheeled the rented bicycles out to the Mission Bay bike path.
“There’s supposed to be a great seafood place a few miles down the beach,” Rachel said. “We could ride out there and have a nice lunch.”
“Allegedly, their fish tacos are award-winning,” Sarah added.
“Allegedly?” Sam said, winking at Sarah. “What evidence do you have to support this claim, counselor?”
Sarah, who had just opened her own law practice in La Jolla, pulled out her iPhone and tapped on the screen. “Rachel’s cousin gave it five stars on TripAdvisor.”
“My cousin, the personal chef,” Rachel said.
“Sounds good to me,” Emma said, putting on her bicycle helmet.
“Me too,” Sam agreed. “Lead the way.”
Emma pushed off, steering the tandem bike as Sam pedaled behind her. The front tire wobbled but a moment later, the friends fell in sync and they coasted smoothly along the path, following Rachel and Sarah on their brightly colored bikes.
Feeling like a kid again, Emma grinned as she breathed in the salt-scented air. She pedaled harder, enjoying the stretch of her muscles and the afternoon sun on her shoulders. She and her friends had spent many childhood summers riding bikes together along the Connecticut shoreline.
“Hey, Sam. I can’t believe these views,” she called. To the left of the palm-lined roadway, the tranquil bay sparkled. The white sails of a trio of catamarans stood out against the bright blue horizon.
“I know. I love it here,” Sam agreed. “I miss California.” After college, Sam had lived in Los Angeles but then moved to Boston.
They rode happily around the scenic bay until at last they reached the small fish restaurant. On the covered deck overlooking the beach, they settled around an acacia wood table and ordered a pitcher of sangria.
“This place is cute,” Rachel remarked, unfolding her napkin and looking around.
Hanging baskets overflowing with geraniums and impatiens swayed in the ocean breeze. A mural depicting Andean musicians surrounded by swirls of musical notes decorated the back wall.
The waitress delivered their drinks. Sam picked up the pitcher and poured four glasses of the fruity red wine. Sarah lifted her glass and said, “Thank you so much for coming out to visit me this week. I’m so happy to have all four of us together! Just like the good old days. Here’s to lifelong friends.”
They all clinked glasses and Emma said, “Do you remember that song we used to sing in Girl Scouts? The round, “Make New Friends?”
Rachel started to sing softly, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
One by one, Sam, Sarah and then Emma joined in the round. As they sang, Emma looked around the table at her oldest and dearest friends. The memories they shared and would continue to make in the future were as valuable as gold.