I live in Vancouver, and we have beaches here. I know this. I have sand in every bag I own to prove it. But sitting on the patio of a shabby-chic Vancouver Island beach house, G&T in hand, watching the tide roll up so close It's practically kissing the deck? That's where I want to be.

This place, this moment, is real. I was there last summer€”a cheeky escape while pandemic restrictions were slightly looser€”though it seems like a lifetime ago. It's been a year of pause, and yet so much has changed for the women I went there with. Two of the group are now expecting babies; three of us have made career pivots; one made a movie; one fell in love.

Back to last year. We found the place on VRBO (€œThe Bayside Beach House€), and stepping into it was like a Nancy Meyers fever dream. Slouchy slipcovered sofas. A heavy, sprawling wooden table under a rustic-glam chandelier. Sun-bleached driftwood tchotchkes on tastefully chalk-painted shelves. It was a glorious cliché of what a €œgirls€™ trip€ in your 30s should be. We leaned in immediately: First Wives Club on repeat, wine flowing loose and fast.

In the mornings, when the tide had darted all the way out again (so shy!), I€™d pick my way across the damp, barnacle-laden expanse of sand to plunge myself into the brisk water€”a ritual of salt and shock to wash away any night-before sluggishness (see: wine flowing loose and fast). One day, sloshing back up to the cabin, I realized the ground was littered in oysters. Quickly, I gathered them into my towel: the great provider, returning with her bounty. A quick google revealed they were essentially poison. Oops. I released them back to the sea.

Instead, we hopped in the car and cruised down the winding oceanside highway to the Fanny Bay Oysters to source our seafood from the professionals on the dock. En route, we swung by Cumberland to stroll the main drag, stopping for replenishment more than is really necessary considering €œdowntown€ is approximately four blocks€”a coffee here, a pint there, a quick taco pit-stop to refuel after hitting the vintage shop. (A leopard jacket and jumpsuit were purchased: like I said, we leaned in.)

Oh, what I€™d give to revel in that feeling again: of being somewhere new with nothing in particular to do. Or really, better yet, what I€™d give to do this very specific thing: put on matching white robes over our swimsuits, drag the wicker furniture down to the sand, and top up the glasses of my funny friends with chilled rosé as we cackle and preen in our Diane Keaton cosplay, salty air whipping around our hair and perfectly extra hats, soaking in as much sun as the West Coast sky will give us, revelling in being away, apart, together.