Opus One: my first day in Wrightsville Beach

I just heard the most beautiful story.

I moved to Wilmington about a week ago from Aspen, Colo., to head to grad school, start work and soak up the rest of a summer at the beach. Monday afternoon, after 32 hours on the road, I pointed my convertible toward Wrightsville Avenue and rolled the top down.

My first discovery was Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill. Two striking young women were hard at work behind the bar. One had tattoos, one had long, dark braids, both were efficient, yet enigmatic, adding a touch of mystique to the authentic Mexican fare. I counted 63 hot sauces on my side of the counter, but forgot to try any of them; I was too engrossed in my Traditional Salad Bowl with Grilled Mahi.

I set out for a stroll on the beach strand between the piers. I passed five young men out of “The Endless Summer” poster. They sat on a wooden porch, in old rocking chairs, and gazed out at the sidewalk with mild disdain. One of them shot me a bored, over-tanned look as I walked by.

Two boys synchronized break-dance moves, with matching handstands in the sand; a family spread out with lawn chairs and whiffle ball in expert tailgate fashion; surfers gauged wave conditions, while sculpted men with tattoos gathered together to discuss who knows what and looking good in so doing. An elderly pair of swimmers squealed with delight when they discovered just how warm the water was. I, too, applauded the balmy Atlantic, much warmer than my Southern California’s mighty Pacific.

I walked to the second pier, made of weathered pick-up sticks, and marveled at the kite surfers. The kites soared through the sky, colorful half-moons dancing across the horizon.

Back downtown, I wandered into Lagerheads. A party of three walked in, looking for an extra seat; I offered to move over so they could sit together, but the older gentleman in the group interrupted: “Well, maybe I want to sit next to you!”

We started to chat. Tracy and Jason Bell are married with three kids, but they were out on a Monday night for a go at their favorite video game, Find the Differences. The older gentleman was Jason’s father, visiting from Scotland.

 Here is the story:

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