We spent last week in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.
It was a vacation that we needed, more than in other years I think. We needed to get out of the house, and away from everything. We needed to forget about all of the stuff that has been going on. And for the first time that I can remember since my childhood, I found it hard to come home. There didn’t seem to be much to come home to, as everything I needed was with me, and everything at home just reminded me of, well, the stuff I was trying to get away from.
So for one week, we forgot. We woke up with no agenda, nothing to be done, nothing necessary.
Our house sat literally 10 feet from the beach. I would get up and quietly dress and take Poppy for a walk on the beach. (Poppy, by the way, spent a good deal of time avoiding the water. She was not interested — not in the least.) So while we walked — I by the water searching for shells, and she up on the beach at a distance she considered to be safe from the waves — we enjoyed the quiet of the beach. She barked at people passing by, and ran away (as far away as she could get) as the waves approached her, and she sniffed the crab holes.
And then, when our walk was over, she sat with me on the screened in porch, overlooking the beach, and barked and howled everytime someone new came by. I drank coffee. I drank it until I didn’t want anymore. I watched people walking by, pelicans diving, and I marvelled at the waves…the rhythmic waves…how they crash, over and over and over again, and how the sun dances upon the water. And I wondered if someday, someday maybe years from now, if maybe The Man and I will have a beach house. Maybe some day when we are in the twilight of our life, when the hard work is done, maybe we will be able to sit and drink coffee every morning to the sound of the waves and the sunshine on our faces. One can dream, anyway.
And as I sat there dreaming, little faces would appear with sleep still washing over them. Little faces, with pink cheeks and freckles and tangled up hair. And they would sit down beside me in their jammies with their plates full of bacon and eggs that their daddy made. I wished silently that our days at home could feel like this, and I promised to try. I promised to try not to care so much about time, and schedules and cleanliness. I promised that this summer would be more about fun.
This week we ate outside on red-painted picnic tables covered in layers of salt, and decorated with piles of sandy shells…the treasure of little fingers. I love their shells the most — more than the ones I have chosen. Theirs are slivers and chunks and broken pieces of every color. There are spirals, and stripes and mottled surfaces. What I see when I look at them are the voices, the fingers, the sparkling eyes that found them. And they remind me that it is the simple things that are the most beautiful.
Every night, The Man and I would sit on the small deck and cook on the grill. We would drink a glass of wine and watch the waves. We had a charcoal grill, so there was plenty of time to talk and to be together, in quiet, while the coals heated up. That was good (except for the one time that Kate came out and told us that Ella had doodled all over –and I mean ALL OVER — the white bureaus in black sharpie. Just FYI — it takes a good 6-7 coats of paint to cover up black sharpie.)
We exhausted ourselves with laughter and sunshine. We built sand castles and dug giant holes. We played in the waves. We went to bed late with bellies full of steak, shrimp, watermelon, corn on the cob and s’mores. We went out for ice cream. We fed the seagulls, and watched the dolphins. We caught crabs and watched them bury themselves in the sand. We rested with our faces to the sun, with the ocean breeze ruffling our hair, and the rushing sound of the sea and the laughter of children in our ears.
Of course, there was the occasional whining about sandy pants and such, but it was the best vacation I can ever remember having.