Beach Report - Thursday

Today was a thinking day, interrupted frequently by the goings-on below the balcony and large chunks of reading. In keeping with the whole ocean thing, I'm reading Empire of Blue Water by Stephan Talty, which is an examination of the rise and fall of privateers and pirates in the Caribbean, particularly Henry Morgan, who was both a fantastically successful pirate and later the man King Charles II tapped to break up the pirate business during the seventeenth century. It's both a fascinating history and a good read.

Below decks, if you will, two large groups of people were busy on the beach. The people next door form one group - it appears to be made up of maybe three families, adults and children - who are here for the week. They never appear before lunchtime but then various assemblages of group head down to the beach to set up a large tent for the grownups to sit under, and the kids head for the water. Every night they enjoy dinner on their porch with music and much laughter; the first two nights I was here they shot off fireworks - most of them on Memorial Day and then I guess a few leftovers the next night.

The other group is younger - college age perhaps - several men and two women. This group is very active both in the water and on the beach. Today they first set up a bocce ball court and played that for a while. The adults in the family group began to cheer for them and by the end of the fourth or fifth game, the winner ran over to the family tent to receive high fives from all the dads. Next, they set up a volleyball net, but from the looks of it, this group had less talent for volleyball than bocce ball. The dads didn't get into the volleyball game, either. Perhaps we all have been spoiled by watching Olympic beach volleyball. Then the young people all went swimming. They all formed a circle in chest-high water and began (one at a time) doing something that looked like Madonna's "vogue poses" except they were more like martial arts moves. This didn't go on for too long - people started drifting off. Whether this was because they got bored or because they were defeated by someone else's "move," I don't know.

Then there was the couple that "lives" next door to me. They are young-ish (30's maybe) and have a lovely striped umbrella (BTW, the newest fashion in beach umbrellas is the fake grass hut umbrella; we saw one at the Park last Sunday and I've seen several here at the beach this time). She suns a lot; he likes to go out into the water with an inflatable raft. Today he was wading/pushing the raft out to deeper water and one of his oars fell off the boat. He didn't see this; it was riding the waves back to shore, its yellow paddle visible to everyone else but him. Then the yellow paddle of the other oar fell off (not the whole oar this time). It, too, headed for shore. So by the time the man was ready to hoist himself into the raft, he only had one stick and no paddles. Just as he turned to jump into the boat, he picked up the stick questioningly and started looking all around for the rest of his stuff. Fortunately, he wasn't that far out and those yellow paddles were easy to see, and he retrieved them and started over again. By the time he was safely ensconced in the raft, he rowed out pretty far; I guess after so much trouble just to get going he might as well have a good ride.

It was all interesting. I enjoy people watching. But in between these various activities and chapters in the pirates book, I did some thinking, too. I always do a lot of thinking, but I find that vacation thinking is valuable because it's done in a no-pressure environment. And when I am alone, as I am on this trip, I'm not reacting to anyone else, either.

Some of my thinking included regret for this or that thing/time in the past (I wish I'd .......; I wish I had not .....; the kids grew up so fast.....). I also thought about aging - my own, my husband's, my mother's, my friends' - and about how I might come to terms with the stuff that goes with aging. To be able to give over to the things I need to give over to and to enjoy life in a different way and not be frustrated that it's not like it was/I'm not what I was twenty years ago. (I think I was able to enjoy doing more sitting on the deck as well as taking shorter walks this time without feeling bad about not being up for the marathons I used to do.) I thought about how much I love my kids and how hard it is sometimes to be "well-differentiated" - to be in relationship but not to be fused or smothering or controlling - without resorting to just not caring. I thought about my own youth (watching the volleyball crew); my own time with young children (watching the three-family crowd); my marriage (watching the couple that liked to do different things). Certainly there were regrets. But also some sense of generosity - we would all have done much better in life if we knew then what we know now. And hope: as the guy said back in 1975, "I'm not dead yet!"

It was a good day.