Oh, Danny Boy, the beach, the beach is calling…
So, another weekend, another hurricane, although by the time Danny got up to our neighborhood, he’d fallen from his pedestal and was just barely a disorganized tropical depression. Warnings were reduced to high surf and rip current advisories, but also a flood warning, since we did end up getting several inches of rain. And our windchimes got a nice workout, too.
I couldn’t resist another trip to the outer beach. Now, you shouldn’t have the impression I’m some kind of crazy daredevil. Both last weekend and this, my stormy beach visits have come at low tide. While the ocean has definitely been churning with occasional strong surges around my feet, I’ve never really felt like I was in any danger. I’m a pretty cautious guy, really. The high storm tides are something to see, I’m sure…but lately they either happen while it’s dark, or as was the case earlier today, when I was happier to stay nestled in bed under a purring cat.
But I can’t deny there’s some feeble sense of thrill-seeking being played out with these beach visits. Maybe I’m trying to get my groove back after the surgery (just walking on the beach and along the edge of the surf has been relaxing and good, easy exercise, too, of course…), to carry on the sense of adventure that at least some moments of this past year have held for me.
Remarkably, its been already a year since I acted to change my life, to try to find something better than what I was living. I think you all know that I really am very happy with how it turned out. I like being able to go to see a sunset without accusations of lurid affairs when I return. I don’t miss the slings and arrows of petty criticism launched regularly against me and all the other people in my life I care about, as a means of distracting me from what Shakespeare might’ve called The Stagger I Saw Before Me. Life with a drunk was no fun and I don’t miss that. Sure, I spend more time alone these days, but less time – it turns out – feeling lonely.
But to say I don’t, on some level, feel bittersweet would be a lie. I do still sometimes wish that things had been different between us. We had our good times and if my brain didn’t spend too much time thinking about what words or deeds might’ve been different, might have made a difference, I probably wouldn’t recognize it as my knot-tying own gray matter. How nice it might’ve been if he’d been the guy who wanted to go walk with me on the beach in the rain, or to see a sunset for its own sake.
Maybe I go to the beach because, in the roar of all that surf, I can’t hear the clutter of those thoughts.
And yesterday, I realized, too, that if you are standing in a heavy rain at the beach, it’s not obvious to other people that you’re crying (or it wouldn’t have been, if I hadn’t had the place nearly to myself). Some of that’s from some lingering hurt, but often those tears just come on me unexpectedly when I’m faced with the natural beauty I’m so lucky to have all around me and gratitude for what’s generally a pretty great life.
And anyway, the tears don’t last.
I stand there on the sand, feeling the surface tension beneath my bare feet…and then I feel that tension break as a thin edge of water washes around me, and my toes sink into the shifting sand a little. I laugh and breathe a little more easily, looking down at the polished stones the Atlantic is tumbling around me.
And there it is – to my active imagination anyway – a stone in the shape of a heart. I smile, laughing louder against the roar of the surf. Is this what I came here for today, to find my heart?
And then it occurs to me that maybe my recent surgery has taught me a lesson I wasn’t expecting. That maybe, like that incision near my waist, my heart still hurts not because its been broken, but because it’s healing. And I can’t help but feel hopeful about that.
And then I realize that the sea really is sweeping up shore a little further around me than before and I know that the time of lowest tide has come and gone and the sea is coming in again. With the storm – disorganized though it may be – still to the south of us, this far down the beach is no place to linger. Not when there’s dry clothes, hot soup and a purring kitty waiting at home.
Life, as they say, is Beautiful.