Monday, July 20, 2009

Return from the Beach

I am returned from a week at the beach! It was a beautiful week, and for the first couple of days I thought repeatedly of Edna St. Vincent Millay, "I am too long away from water. I have a need for water near." The adjustment to beach living was gradual; the mind is so accustomed to all the schedules and demands of the day that it kept asking "what am I supposed to be doing?"

Even with the two boys with me (my first vacation as a single parent - but I had plenty of support from family) there was time for daydreaming, for reading a couple months' worth of magazines, for writing several times a day and for taking naps. In the midst of the other 27 people on this family vacation there was still time just to be alone, and to process all the change, the loss and the new beginnings that have comprised my life this year.

It was lovely to sit on the beach, to watch the kids of all ages playing. There were dolphins, startlingly close to shore one day. A pair of pelicans flew by. Most days the weather was absolutely perfect, and I have a tan! This is remarkable because I never tan; for me it is a good one. It won't last - I told my neighbor "don't blink or you'll miss it" because it will fade quickly. He said, "ahh, one of those Irish tans - they usually come off in the shower." Too true, sadly.

The brain is sluggish, having accustomed itself to warm sand, the rhythm of the surf and lazy beach conversations. Apart from Millay, I was thinking of the opening pages of Fortune's Rocks, describing Olympia's arrival on the shore after a long Boston winter. I couldn't quite recall the words, but the purely sensual experience that Anita Shreve captures in her prose:
Her feet, as she makes slow progress, create slight and scandalous indentations in the sand. Her dress, which is a peach silk, turns, when she steps into the water, a translucent sepia. The air is hot, but the water on her skin is frigid; the contrast makes her shiver.
It is time to get back to work, but it was a joy to have the break. It becomes apparent how much you've relaxed when you come back to real life and balk at having to consider all the things that usually occupy the mind, instead of ignoring it all to go sit in the sun.

No comments: