The perennial allure of San Diego has caught me by surprise several times this week that we’ve been back. Of Carmel Valley specifically. The only draw toward La Jolla is the original one: the Temple. But Carmel Valley attracts me subtly, like the perfume of a beloved flower, half-forgotten, buried in a complexity of scents, but every so often wafting clear and unchanged, a glimpse into an elusive dream. The streets are immaculate, the landscaping perfect, the architecture harmonious, and the weather flawlessly blue and balmy. The well-groomed palm tree is ubiquitous here. Yet somehow, the meticulously executed surroundings are only a backdrop for the true beauty of this place.
I love Carmel Valley because the beauty is more than skin-deep. Most of these graceful houses are inhabited by happy families who spend time together. The percentage of married households in this zip code is phenomenally high. Alcohol was recently banned from Torrey Pines State Beach. If you go to the park in the evening, you will find it full of mothers and fathers there with their children. The man parking beside you in this year’s model BMW has a car seat in the back. It’s a place where tangible and intangible success walk hand-in-hand.
It’s not so far from how I envision the essential elements of heaven–all gold and carbuncles, and happy, loving families, and a sea as wide and blue as the heart of God.