By Francis Marion – First Published August 1st, 2016
Each morning finds us staring out into the vast expanse of the Pacific. My daughter, now 12, tells me that she no longer needs my help with her board.
“I can handle my own gear, Dad.”
She reminds me of my place in time. Like the countless waves that beat against the shore my part in this piece of her life has come and gone. I no longer accompany her out into the surf and hold her still, waiting, instructing, coaching and launching her safely back towards shore. She carries her own board out into the waves and bobs with red top, waiting and watching patiently before turning and paddling with all she’s got to harness the energy and power of a wave that promises to either deliver her back to me or bury her beneath its mass.
Each time she fails she comes back up for air and collects herself then mounts her board for another run. She reminds me of Sexton’s daughter who instead of calling on mum calls on God. No longer helpless but strong enough to call on her own will I am struck, for the first time, by the beauty of it all and somehow my place begins to make sense.
Back in town, we find Shelter from the coming storm. Overlooking the harbor from the deck our families discuss the world and its problems while consuming fresh mussels until we can eat no more. The music plays softly in the background while foreign tourists come and go with their camera’s dangling from their necks, looking strangely out of place but welcome nonetheless in our secret little corner in an out of the way spot on the edge of the world.
Everything I see and watch back home, truly not that far away, seems to be almost surreal when we are here. We speak of politics and current events as though they were merely hypothetical then laugh when we realize that from here if it all burned tonight, we might not really notice. At least not for a while, and this seems to bring comfort to all. As the sun begins to set we draw our chairs closer to one another and order another round of drinks and another pot of mussels. The wait staff turn on the heaters and the deck is warmed by the camaraderie of a dozen conversations.
Later, after dinner is finished we hit the beach where the kids sit around the fire wrapped in towels and blankets while the adults lounge nearby sipping their drinks and simply staring upwards. One of the dads begins to name the constellations overhead as they slowly appear and the youngest amongst us begin to doze.
Somewhere down the beach in the dark someone launches a sky lantern to the “ooh’s and ahh’s” of the kids as the waves on the shore in our little cove begin to pick up momentum and keep a steady rhythm in concert with the crackling of the fire. I hold my wife’s hand and look deep into the flames as dinner, the darkness and sleep begin to assert themselves over my sunburned and tired body.
“It’s time for bed,” I tell the kids. Some will have to be carried back to their cottages. The older ones will dance and prance and speak of tomorrow, of which beach, which stretch, and how many runs they will make before it’s time, once again, to go.
Goodbye. Goodbye. We had such a wonderful time. Goodbye. See you soon.
We hug one another, shake hands and herd children. With the Jeep loaded to the hilt, the kids pile in. We are red faced and the sand spills from every nook and cranny of the vehicle and our gear. Home is a great place, one I am grateful for but so too are remote places with close friends. Each time we leave we speak of living here but then I wonder, “Where would we go to escape?” and I am grateful for our time and the people we love.
Truly, as the man once said, “What more could you ask for?”
Nothing I suppose as I turn the key and point the wheels back towards home.
Another grain of sand on an endless beach and another summer come and gone. As are we. And that’s all right…