I keep a journal. Days missed outnumber the ones logged, but it doesn’t matter. There is still plenty of interesting stuff for me to mine. Moods, odd conversations, loose thoughts never quite fastened up to a mooring. Sometimes an entry is Mandarin Chinese and other times it makes complete sense. Like favorite days in a year.
A few years back, we rented a beach house in the Outer Banks. Me and the kids. Mom and the sisters. A week with no real schedules or places to be. A time to ditch clocks and calendars and obligations in favor of sand and drinks. It was a Wednesday, smack in the middle of our week long hug of a time. I awoke at daybreak and stole away for a morning run. My goal was the Currituck Beach Lighthouse- a handsome brick landmark whose comforting presence gives the locals a history and visitors a helpful fix on their surroundings I ditched the plan and kept running, my legs feeling up to it and my brain fueled by the dizzied ignorance of what lie ahead.
Later on, I went into town with my daughter and we scrummed Harris Teeter, plucking mangoes and fresh cut flowers, some fresh baked bread, the out of town papers and a few other unnecessary particulars before setting off for an inlet of local shops. We fetched salmon, scallops and mussels and made way back to the house for a big breakfast.
I made potato hash with chopped apples and scallops, and omelets stuffed with salmon and warm crusty bread. I sliced up some fruit and drizzled it with honey and pecans and then we got funny on mimosas and full stomachs.
We set off for the beach after a time. Settled on a patch of sand with the greedy want of a band of pirates. We made camp with a tent and filled it up with beach towels and music and funny stories. Once I’d shaken off enough of the laziness of a warm summer day with nowhere to be, I went for a swim. The kind I used to take as a boy when I would look to separate myself from the shoreline for the peace it afforded my restless bones. There is a healing quality to the ocean in that man made contexts are dwarfed by its immensity. The ocean doesn’t boast. It just IS.
That night, we dined on Cuban sandwiches I constructed from the succulent piece of lechon my sister had cooked the night before. I tied the group over with mussels chock full of blue cheese and bacon crumbles and some more crusty bread for dipping. My Cuban sandwiches require the patience of Job because I believe the right one has more press in it than the New York Times. Patience works for the ocean so there is something to that.
After dinner, the kids and my sisters started talking up an ice cream run. I was fully content with the Martini I was nursing into sunset, so I was left to my own devices. I moved out to the pool and searched the radio for something agreeable, stopping on the Indigo Girls and then sitting back with my Martini and a pack of smokes. Watching the sky plummet into memory and slipping meditatively into that place where everything makes perfect enough sense.
And then the thought occurred . . Did I remember to turn off the coffee maker before we left the house.
It was beautiful while it lasted.