This weekend, at one last family beach trip with some of my favorite friends of the south, I looked around at a sand bar that formed islands as far as I could see, I promise it might have been longer than a mile, at pelicans hovering just inches above the thick salty sea, at my children and my dear friends children nestled in close to one another floating and frolicking in tide pools with grins plastered to their faces, and at my own two feet sunk deep into the sand with a rising tide swirling at my hips. “This place feels like a vacation”, I thought to myself. “Just when you are leaving.” I admitted. Waiting this long to realize that is too long. I will never make the same mistake. I think back on all my days with my two feet on the ground I realized that they are all just that.
A vacation of sorts.
I am glad I am alive.
Moving magnifies the lack of permanence in life. It forces me reflect on how big my boys were exactly one year ago when we went to the beach for a birthday party, or how my friends babies have grown so since we were last at a picnic, or how much I expected of my oldest when we moved here and he was a mere four months older than my youngest currently is. It makes me feel the difference deep in my bones and wish that I had a better way to hold on. But we don’t. It doesn’t work that way. You have this. You have here.
Saying goodbye three times in three years is a lot. It is sad to see tears in your dear friends eyes when you embrace them until you don’t know when, it is sad to sit in the passengers seat and shed them silently so your children don’t worry with a speechless husband at your side knowing not what to do but stare at the road. But, more important than a fleeting moment of sadness is the idea that I have these souls speckled across the continent with a bit of me stored somewhere inside them. And that I had the chance to have all these wonderful memories filed away in me.
Motherhood forms a different type of friendship all together. The camaraderie and understanding is uncanny to any other stage in my life so far. We can commiserate and congratulate all at once all with the best intentions and with the eye of a common soul. These children of ours, they give us so much to think about. So much to search for and strive for. So much to smile at.
I am so grateful for the days we have had here. Things became quite real to me last night, when handing over some houseplants. This step of the process always makes the whole thing come to life. Pictures are stacked in a corner, the walls are bare. Knick knacks are safely tucked away and the rest awaits for the movers expertise. Though a constant weight of sadness tugs at my heartstrings, and behind that is a layer of fear, I am ready for the adventure that lies ahead.
I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul. Where I will end up i think only god really knows. -Cat Stevens
Thank you Georgia. You have been good to me.
Turns out the weekend was more. More than a no toys at hand couple of days, and so much more than a healthy diet. Our trip was joy. Nothing, if not joy.
Our trip was sunrise wake ups but we did more than munch eggs and sip coffee until it was bright enough to seize the day. Instead, our trip was sneak down the long path in the black of the night to be dazzled by the starry sky over the ocean.
Our trip was foam on your feet. It was sandy smiles and ocean breeze snoozes.
It was ugly birthday cake eaten on a fallen palm tree washed ashore while listening to nothing but the surf and gulls. (I mean it, this poor thing went through the ringer. But don’t you worry we gobbled it up none the less).
It was lanterns and camp fires. It was responsibility for my three-year old hard-working boy. It was joy at seeing him gather the fuel and then (carefully) feed that fascinating and mesmerizing fire too.
It was all of these things and then some. And then something.
A moment of glory and beauty and marvel. We met up with some amazing volunteers at the moments before that old ball of flame rose up high in the sky to hike out to the nests of the giant underwater beasts.
The loggerback sea turtle. They were assessing the survival of three nests that morning. They were able to help four tiny babes, no bigger than your palm scurry down to the sea. Mind you the lucky ones of these sweet little turtles will grow to be upwards of three hundred pounds.
It is vital that these little ones do this hike on their own. No tossing them in and wishing them luck. They need to imprint this beach in their pea sized brains for this is where they will come back in thirty years time to lay their own couple hundred eggs. So we formed two lines. Us and some boy scouts and some older folks decked out in bright orange. And we witnessed the most incredible display of effort and instinct I have ever laid eyes on.
Good luck out there little ones. Lee and I plan to come back in thirty years, when we are old and gray and try to catch a glimpse of you all grown up. So, until next time…
As a girl, after hours of jumping salty crashing waves, handstands under water, going surfing and all the other joys of the ocean I often found solace and comfort in my mama’s multicolored striped cloth beach chair. I would sit all cozy wrapped in a towel shaken free of sand, handed a cup of juice or a slice of watermelon, lips all purple and shivering despite the warm summertime sun and it was lovely. All the mom’s had them. They sat in their chairs and chatted while us kids ran wild.
I have yet to go out and get such a chair. I can’t say why exactly. I suppose it’s because I am a product of playing at the shore. If I can’t swim underwater with my eyes wide open spying out fish and shells and legs of unsuspecting people than what am I? Really.
So these days, regardless of my adult status, and despite denying my boys of the memory of such a seat, I claim freedom from the confines of a beach chair. Delightful they may be, I am not ready for this giant step in life. No, for now I will use it as an excuse to shake and bake for a just a tiny bit longer. (you know where you go in the water and then roll around in the dry sand)
Since I don’t know when my little man has had a unprecendeted fear of the ocean. He does not mind the tide pools but the mere sight of the ocean waves rolling makes this sweet little blondie of mine stutter and shake with true fear. This aversion is not limited to him going in the water either. It includes both Rowan and I respectively. If I even so much as dip my piggy toe in the vast ocean that boy honest to goodness panics. He begs and screams for me to come back. He wails. He claws at the sand. It is plain old sad to watch. So what else can I do but come back and play safely on the shore with my little man. I tried all sorts of recommended tricks none of which even came close to easing his mind about the tumbling waves.
Well todays beach outing included a little buddy. And it proved to be just the remedy.
Perhaps it was the peer pressure or just the visual understanding that yes, you will survive if you play at the shore. But my little man inched his way down to where the tide meets the beach and what else; fished. He looked up at me and said in Miles fashion, “My did it. My not afraid of the ocean anymore!”.
so proud of this little boy
We are far away from most places. About a half hour traveling to get just about anywhere. (Minus the Dollar General which the locals apparently refer to as “The Wal-Mart” around here) But, we are also just about 40 minutes to the most spectacular beaches I have seen.
After a trip to the license store I decided that my handy gps was enough to trump my horrible sense of direction and that I would take us in the direction of the ocean. Oh, what a good decision that was.
Just a short drive it seemed, then we parked our picnic in the sand by a tide pool as big as a pond. Miles “caught” fish, lobsters, and crabs to his heart’s content. He floated boats of reeds and twigs and mainly just ran buck wild for hours. And I mean hours.
After a while, he walked right up to me and exclaimed with arms stretched, “Look at all the world mama!” I think I will keep my eyes wide open after that insight. What a day we had.