For months, I’ve had my sights so set on the ‘unknown’ and the ‘new’ that I almost lost sight of the beauty in the familiar. Then I took a trip to Sunset Beach, a place I’ve been going for almost 16 years with my family.
The sky seems bigger the closer you get to the beach. On this day, the clouds were crisp white over the green trees that had not yet gotten word that fall was just around the corner. The sunroof was open, making me happy I made the decision to get a sunroof when I got my new car a few months ago. My hair was blowing which I imagined made me look cute and beachy (deep down I knew that was not reality but for the moment, I wanted to believe it). Music was blaring and two teenagers sat in the back screaming the words to each song. My heart was full of gratitude.
I actually thought about not going to the beach this Labor Day weekend. I get back on Monday and will have to leave for a conference in Boston on Tuesday. After a long first week of back to school teen angst, the 4-hour drive there and back sounded too short to be worth it. Besides, I had a list of things to do and pack before I leave town for work. It’s so easy to make excuses why we CAN’T do something. I’m trying to do less of that in my life so I reframed the whole idea in my head. It would be great to see my parents even for a short 48 hours and my daughter would be happy I took a break from working long enough to go.
Just before the bridge to the beach, we stopped at our favorite little seafood shop and picked up some shrimp fresh off the boat! It would taste great with a cold glass of wine later on the deck overlooking the ocean. My daughter was excited to stop because she knew what was next. The beach!
We didn’t even care that the normally less than touristy beach was filled with colorful umbrellas and more people than usual. It felt good to be here. Familiar. I was already glad I came. Soon, the sand whipped beach air covered my body in a state of stickiness. I didn’t even care.
Planning my trip to visit 50 places I’ve never been the year I turn 50 is forcing me to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable. That’s a good thing for a control freak, type A personality like me. I’ve been faced with the uncomfortable on a routine basis ever since my divorce. All the things my husband used to take care of, I had to figure out. Financially, I felt the burden of running a home as I left a career I knew to start my own business. Being a single parent has repeatedly made me feel even less like I know what I am doing. These trips are reminding me who I am and what I am capable of.
As the same families who join my parents here every year started rolling in, the pace of genuine hugs picked up. Conversations swirled as everyone started ‘catching up’. I felt at peace. There is joy in the people who know you and love you know no matter what. In the familiar sound of a child yelling when she steps on that first sandbur of the weekend. In the shrill of laughter that you know is from some sea creature brushing your leg in the water. In the rush of a cold shower after a hot day. In the sunset that is beautiful time and time again. In the taste of that fresh shrimp and a glass of wine shared with friends.
The first time I walked this beach with my daughter she was in my belly(I was 7 months pregnant). Now, her long hair and 2-piece bathing suit with legs for days walks the shore with a friend looking for cute boys. I’m so looking forward to experiencing places I’ve never been before but there are some places I’ll always love no matter how many times I am there. It’s a blessed life to experience both.