Twice a year my family makes the ambitious 900-mile trek to the Gulf for a week of sand, surf, seafood, and silliness. We wake up earlier than we do even at home to see the sunrise on the ocean and the dolphins swimming by in the post dawn sunshine. We walk for miles collecting treasures and searching for sea creatures, we jump waves until our legs hurt from the effort and our cheeks hurt from the laughter. The kids watch too much T.V. but with all of us in one room, on one couch, it hardly seems like a bad thing. We are we here. We grow more as a family, as a couple, and as parents these 2 weeks a year than we do for all the other weeks combined. It’s the magic of the sea.
Come Tuesday sometimes even Wednesday each and every trip my husband says: “Oh good! Welcome, glad you came.” For the first year or two it was confusing. Glad you came? I’ve been here, I spent more than a week shopping and packing and preparing for this trip. I endured that grueling 2-day drive right next to you. I passed the books and snacks, found the movies and sang the songs. I was up all night in that hotel lobby so you could get the sleep you needed to drive us the rest of the way. I nursed in the car while you and the big kids scarfed down McDonalds so we could beat rush hour traffic in some sweet southern town with inevitable charm and plenty of time. I changed diapers and lugged suitcases and tucked in babies. I walked and swam and jumped and ate. I am here, I was here 2 days ago, making sure we had breakfast and sand toys and bathing suits and fun. But that Tuesday or that Wednesday the Sea finally won. I sat on the porch, wine glass in hand, and took a deep cleansing salt filled breath. As my husband speaks those inevitable words, the sea silently whispers the same. “Oh good! Welcome, glad you came.”
What is it about this life that holds us so firmly in place? That getting away takes longer than just pulling out of the driveway. That expectation and preparation make leaving painful and stressful. What is it about this season of life that keeps me yearning for perfection? That getting it wrong, doing anything wrong, is terrifying. At the beach it’s all wrong … in all the right ways. We decide each minute what that minute holds. We eat when we are hungry, we sleep when we are tired. We rest when we are weary and we stay up way past dark. We dance ballet in the swimming pool, construct princess castles from sand and spend hours sitting together. It’s the magic of the sea.
Perhaps I’m more open to letting the sea whisper my name these days, it’s called me for so many years now It seems only right that we would know each other. But still it takes me days to unplug, to let the sea, and my family, work their magic. This year was a little harder than most. It took me a little longer, I fought it a little stronger. It was hard to shake off that life. 6 months from now, when we visit this place again, when I sit on this porch and gaze at this sea I will listen with a bit more earnest. I will sit in the sand just a little longer on that first day, I will let the Sea work its magic just a little bit faster and maybe I can be present just a little bit longer.