July 16-19, 2021, first “vacation” in over a year.
I’ve been trying to get this out for over a week now. It’s too long, I know. And for anyone who has already heard the details, it’s old news. But it’s a record of yet another Beach Buggy Adventure. Simplicity? There were moments….
Day 1: The Plan: It’s been way too long since I’ve put my 63 year old feet into the ocean. They hurt again. Plantar Fasciitis? Or just 63 year old bones and muscles? Either way, they need the ocean just as much as my soul needs it. We’ll be going there in the morning, catching the sunrises if we can, but also catching the morning quiet. We will probably see dolphins, and seagulls and sand crabs. I’ll come back with yet another bag of shells “to make something with.” At least, that’s the plan, once we actually get there.
Day 2: Getting There: Hmmm. How does driving 60 miles end up taking 3 hours? Not to mention the lack of air conditioning with outside temperatures over 100. Traffic. I forgot that little detail. Construction on the one major tunnel between Colonial Williamsburg and “the beach.” I could go on with my whining, but it’s not worth the energy. Especially since I used up all my energy sweating, and worrying that some little buzz car might try to cut us off and we’d just run over them like little bugs on the road.
And that’s how the next 3 hours went, hot, sweaty, slow, irritating, bumpy, never-ending buzz cars and ridiculously little motorcycles zipping by as if they had to get somewhere important.
I guess building a new tunnel is a pretty big deal since there were about 50 barges with various gargantuan sized pieces of tunnel-building equipment looming overhead and enough pilings to create a modern day cathedral on the water. It was all so big and overstated that my eyes could hardly take it all in. And, for some reason, all this activity on the water, beside the current tunnel, created a bottleneck 15 miles away so that every single one of us, all the moms and dads and college students, and eighteen-wheeler truckers, even the buzz cars and little motorcycles had to creep along at 5 miles per hour.
But eventually we made it to the other side safely and even though the road was way more bumpy and narrow and unpredictable, miraculously the a/c started working again. Sigh. We made it to the campground just as a thunderstorm was beginning to brew. So, no beach, at least not tonight.
Day 3: Beware of Expectations
We did what we said we’d do. We got up early, ate a light breakfast, took some pictures of the amazing lotus garden and headed to the beach. We were the first ones in the parking lot. The ladies who were in charge were already sweating in their uniforms and fanny packs, but they were friendly and told us we could come and go all day for $5 but only if there was an empty space when we came back. There were about 10 empty places at the crack of dawn, so we decided it wasn’t worth the stress to even try to come back.
So, across the parking lot, up the soft sandy hill and down the 14 miles of sand to the water’s edge. All we had was our chairs and some sunscreen. It was hot and no breeze, and, since it was so early, the sun was making itself known in a big way. We stayed for about 30 minutes until more people started coming, lighting up cigarettes and ignoring their screaming children. Not exactly what we were dreaming of, so we left saying we’d come back later in another part of the beach.
Day 4: Finally, The vacation part
Today’s agenda: Shuck 15 ears of corn, get the oversized “Lowcountry Boil” pot and its companion oversized portable grill, and head to the rented beach house to spend the day with brothers, sisters in law, nieces and nephews and all their little ones. Lots of Crosby Stills and Nash music, smoked pork, Sonya’s famous potato salad and more desserts than any of us could manage. It was a feast, and a great reconnect face to face. But I left with a lot of unfinished conversations rolling in my head. Still, the beach was waiting.
After a long day with family members and still no real beach sand in my shoes, I was determined to go back. This time there was a nice breeze. People were packing up and taking their cigarettes and grumpy kids home and we were delighted to sit under the pier and watch the waves and the clouds and the sand crabs and birds. That’s it. That’s the simplicity we were waiting for.
I noticed more clouds moving in from behind us. When I turned to take a picture, this is what I found:
We waited, enjoyed the breeze and the relative peace for another 30 minutes, then decided the thunder was heading our way. We got back to the RV in time to realize that we were in the middle of a flood zone and it was going to rain a lot during the night. Here’s the road in its “normal” state:
Day 5: Rained Out, Almost Flooded In
As we’ve done in the past, we decided there was no more fun to be had on this trip. It looked like we might be trapped for several says if we didn’t get out the next morning. Luckily, my phone got enough connection for five minutes so I could check the tide schedule, and sure enough, it was going to be low tide at 9 a.m. which meant the flooded road might not be so bad after all. No more convincing needed. We got out of there early, drove back through that very same tunnel with NO traffic, and soon we were sitting on the couch with our feet up and favorite beverages by our sides.
Adventure over. If I was going to give it a grade, well, it wouldn’t really matter, because even when you get rained out or it’s just too hot to go to the beach, or even when the family stuff gets a little predictable, you know you’re gonna try again and have the same old expectations and disappointments and life will go on.
So, Ms. Beach Buggy waits patiently for her next little trip. And so do we.
And the solid, straight path eventually led to a small boat on a calm river. But, what lies beyond that cloud in the distance?
Solid ground. That’s my thing. Hands, and feet, in and on the earth. Rivers, lakes, streams, waterfalls, and the ocean are treasures for my imagination. But, when I’m actually IN the water, something significant changes. It’s like that dream of driving a car, from the backseat, with no brakes or steering wheel, and you’ve got kids depending on you. Usually I get through it, or the dream ends.
But, this, well this is something else. Rowing a boat down a river would be heaven compared to the uncertainty we are facing now. Regardless of the challenges ahead, I know there is always a winged creature watching over me. An angel? Maybe. A fairy? Perhaps. A bird? Most likely. Somehow I think I would be more brave and comfortable flying through the air than floating on the water. Strange, huh?
One day I will get in that boat and calmly start rowing toward the horizon. But, for now, the earth is my sanctuary, my sister, my reliable friend. She calls me when I don’t feel like working. She whispers in my ear, “You know you will feel better if you come outside and connect with me again.” The river can wait.
For the third time since I was coerced into “joining” Facebook, I’m quitting. Probably not forever, but, for now. Because “now” is all we really have, I’ve decide to deepen the spiritual path that I’m on.
Of course, being in this haphazard quarantine has given us all time to reflect on what we truly need in order to live a meaningful life. What I need is MORE time alone, MORE time outside with the birds and the flowers and the trees, MORE fresh air and more time to reflect.
Facebook has its benefits, like staying connected with friends and family who are far away, or in their own versions of quarantine. It’s the politics that disturb me. It’s the reposting of hatred and disgust with others that gets into my heart and belly and pollutes my thoughts. Am I one of those empaths who has no filters? Or are my filters just clogged up with all the pain and suffering that flow like murky rivers through my consciousness? I don’t know. What I do know is it’s time for change, BIG change. Internal and external. Facebook is a muddled mess of distraction.
Call me weak, or self centered, or just head-in-the-sand-lazy. But you would misunderstand the purpose here. I want more discipline, more introspection, more growth. I guess I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to isolate. I do not take it for granted. I just want to make the most of this unique time in my life.
Because I am primarily a writer, this will be my outlet, for now.
I have been keeping a list of things that have changed since we’ve been staying home, avoiding exposure to the Coronavirus. I have divided my list into two categories: less and more.
Less: driving, spending, interacting, dirty clothes, using less toilet paper because we have to conserve what’s in the cabinet; less going and getting, less eating out, less frustration with rude people on the freeway, and less delight at watching other people’s children…
More: cooking and eating at home, waking up with the birds, quiet time in the back yard, creative bursts, more mindfulness in daily activities, more pictures of the natural world, more deep conversations with loved ones, more connection to others…remotely, more planning for a new, simpler normal life, and more sitting (unfortunately for my back and my active mind)…
Those are some of the everyday changes I’ve noticed in the last six weeks. Seems like such a long time, but it is just a blip in the larger scheme of things.
Then there is the fact that every single day things change: the number of coronavirus cases and deaths, who’s to blame for the virus in the first place, the plan (or lack, thereof) for finding a cure, the lates insane advice coming from the vast, vacant ether, stimulating how to stimulate the economy while helping the unemployed, how and where to get more testing and equipment, and developing a vaccine for this “invisible enemy,” not to mention the current president’s inability to think logically so that he says one thing and does the opposite, or the way the 24 hour news channels determine what the “BREAKING NEWS” will be for the day and then hammer away at it until the next big event. Every day the changes are momentous. Earth shattering. Almost too much to bear.
It feels like a whirlwind of chaos and confusion on top of a life-threatening situation that could leave half the population dead when all is said and done. And maybe that is not a bad thing.
There. I’ve said it. It is impossible to pay attention and not notice that this virus is most definitely connected to the overpopulation of certain parts of the planet and the over-production/over-consumption by the humans who inhabit certain parts of the planet. We have reached our maximum capacity for all that going and getting and living as if there is no such thing as too much and no such thing as tomorrow. The earth (and God?) have other plans.
In nature every day does change and that is what keeps life flowing and moving rather than becoming stagnant and life-less. As many wise folks have said, “The only thing constant is change.” Well, here we are. Big Change is staring us in the face.
So, those everyday changes I mentioned earlier will inevitably become the “new normal.” Either that or we will all die with our toilet paper and other “necessities” stuffed under our mattresses.
End of rant. I need some yoga now.
Every day I ask myself, “Why haven’t I been writing?” I’ve been home mostly. With this quarantine and the ever-present fear of “being infected,” I should have time to write. I know I have ideas and inspirations. In fact, it feels like I am inspired fairly constantly these days. So, why haven’t I been writing?
Well, I’ve been busy. Staying home for me does not mean sitting on the couch watching tv all day. For me, staying home means doing all those things I put on my New Year’s Intention list: read, write, practice more yoga, work in the yard, clean out closets, continue to downsize, organize, make more artsy stuff, cook more healthy food, etc. I have been doing all that, except the writing.
Maybe it’s because the actual process of writing requires me to sit still for good lengths of time. I like to move. I need to move. I begin to perish when I sit for more than an hour. So, I continue to do this, do that, do a little more until my body simply stops. Then I sit. And think of all the things I want to write about.
Guess I better keep my laptop handy for those brief moments of sitting, just in case….
Being socially distant comes easier for some than others. I like being alone, mostly. I enjoy silence. I find crowds to be overwhelming, mostly. I figure, if this five day old baby can sleep peacefully in the middle of a field surrounded by humans with cell phones and cameras, then surely I can find that place in me that is calm and unaffected by all the chaos in this world.
Simplifying our thoughts is also a process.
So, now I am staring into that vast open field toward the horizon, only waving grass and blue sky in front of me. It’s amazingly peaceful, yet also frightening to not know what is coming next. Writing, yes. Yoga, of course. Gardening, till it gets too cold. Traveling, yes, even when it gets too cold. We can always head south….
This reminds me vaguely of the time we decided eight years ago to close our mental health business, sell what we could and get into that RV to explore some wide open spaces. What a journey that was! It brought us here, to this seeped-in-history, magical town filled with old people and oblivious college students. It’s been a good place to live and I am not done with it yet. There is still more to see and learn here. I am at a junction, sort of like the heart chakra, between the lower and upper chakras. A place to stop and process before moving on.
A coworker made an unexpectedly profound statement when I told him I was leaving. “You know, there is a great big world out there.” I knew that, of course, but this statement came from a guy who never really understood me, or so I thought. Guidance and inspiration come from surprising places sometimes. Am I ready to start walking into that field?