We were beach vacationers when I was growing up. The Outer Banks of North Carolina; Isle of Palms, South Carolina; St. Simons Island, Georgia; back to Isle of Palms. For one week out of each summer (minus the summer of my 14th year when we went to London), the Atlantic Ocean and its southern coastal beaches were my playground.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college, my BFF (ha! like that term existed back then!) Sarah and I traveled to Charleston to see a friend of hers and spend a couple of days on Isle of Palms. (We felt very grown up.) One night we went to dinner with Sarah's friend, her friend's brother and a bunch of other people to a Greek restaurant (my first taste of Greek food, and the beginning of another life-long love affair), and as we were walking out to our cars, the velvet curtain of humidity hit me slap in the face. Sea gulls keened above our cars, and miles inland you still smell the salt spray. I had the thought in that moment, under the muddied haze of a street light, that I'd give just about anything to live near the ocean.
And here we are.
Cue my restless heart.
I have been beyond restless this summer. Tapping into emotions I can't even begin to share with you here. (I doubt you want to hear them anyway.) And always, always, it's back to the water for calm, for peace. For my soul.
It's been the funniest summer here. Cool. Rainy. Gray. Not the hot days we usually have that inspire you to want to dip your toe in the water. No days where you literally hot foot it across the white expanse of sand to get to the tide line. Our beach days came in a flurry at the end of the summer, enough so that on each car ride Cal would say, "I wish we'd taken advantage of it more." Even then, most were monochromes of gray and tan. Not the bright whites, blues and golds that we're used to.
I'll take it though, any way it comes.
Different every day and achingly familiar too, I'll take it any way it comes.
I say it too often for my family's comfort, that we're not close enough. It's not convenient to get to the ocean, but I'm starting to think it's necessary. Christine has written, quite longingly, in the comments of my posts about the beach, of our ocean with its warm waters and gentle swells. I know what she means. It feels like home.
My friend Marianne and I have developed a habit of taking walks at the oceanfront on Wednesday mornings, early, when no one is out and about. You can tell that it's fall there already. The sun is still warm, but the sea is foamy and the light is just different somehow. Last week, she'd hurt her foot and I was bone-tired, so instead of walking we sat and talked. The light sparkled golden, and the ocean was slatey blue. There was a brisk wind, and white caps dotted the water and the waves chopped onto shore, not curling gracefully toward the sand. Every so often, we'd draw breath from another hilarious story, and I'd look around and think, I can't believe I live here.
Funny. This isn't at all the post I intended to write when I went to tell you about our beach this summer. Writing does that to you. Like I said, it's totally different here in the autumn. I'll show you that too. Soon. I promise.