The beach was picture perfect. The air was cool, but not cold, just enough to counter the heat of the sun. A gentle breeze came off the ocean, bringing with it the salty smell of the sea. Maite took a deep breath.
“Almost reminds me of home,” she said, suddenly homesick.
Javi chuckled. “You haven’t been gone that long!”
Maite smiled as she looked at Kepa knowingly. “No, I guess not.”
They hiked along the beach, Javi leading the way as Kepa and Maite followed, hand in hand. Maite was still anxious from her existential crisis earlier that morning and held tight to Kepa’s hand, not wanting to ever let go. Her every step was deliberate, as she tried to burn each moment into her brain.
“There’s a nice spot up ahead,” said Javi. “I like to just sit and watch the surfers.”
“You don’t surf yourself?” asked Kepa.
“Nah, I grew up inland and didn’t have much time to make it to the beach to surf. Dad always had us working on something or other. There wasn’t much time for anything else. And now…” he shrugged. “School takes a lot of time.”
“I can relate,” said Maite. “After a long day of classes, then assignments and cramming for exams, there isn’t a whole lot of time to do anything else. Then research sucks even more time.”
“I thought you enjoyed all that research?” asked Kepa, slightly accusingly. “At least that is your excuse for not going out with me most of the time.”
“Of course I like the research,” replied Maite, defensively. “I mean, I want to dedicate my life to doing research. But, at the same time, it comes with sacrifices. It isn’t a nine-to-five type job. You never really turn off or disconnect.” She gave Kepa a pained look. “And sometimes, those who you love are the ones that suffer for it.”
“I think it’s great that you are passionate about your work,” interjected Javi. “Finding something you want to do so deeply is rare. Most people end up working to live. Don’t get me wrong, the world runs on those jobs, but most of us can’t wait for the day to end so we can go home and do something else. If you have that passion, and you can actually follow it, I can’t think of anything better.”
“Live to work, right?” said Maite. She looked again at Kepa. “But, I’m starting to realize that there is more to life than work.”
Kepa couldn’t help but smile.
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