I can remember, with the vivid clarity of early imprinting, being five years old and feeling an almost uncontainable full-body excitement when I knew my family was going to the beach. Back then it was Coney Island; later it was Brighton Beach. The crowds did not deter me or my family. It was all good.
The beach. Maybe the most evocative words for me in all of the language. Two syllables generating hope, desire, peace, and a thrilling tranquility. It is the same today as it was all those decades ago.
I’m counting down: only four days to go. Sure, the transition requires some major effort: planning, list making, shopping, packing, travelling. But then…ahhhhhh. I will smell the sea air, walk on the warm sand, see the thriving, mysterious ocean. It will call my name – my true name. It always does. And no matter the vacillating valence of interpersonal events during my stay at the shore, I can always walk over to the water’s edge and be restored down to my core.
One of the wonderful things about Fire Island is that the distance from bay to ocean is the length of two city blocks. That’s it. Water is never far away. I’ve been visiting Fire Island since the 1970’s and, once on the ferry, my blood pressure slows, my heart calms, my center centers. By the time the half hour sea voyage is over, I’m much closer to by best self.
The activities of daily living will become simplified. There’s walking on the beach, sitting on the beach (or reclining), sitting on the deck (or reclining), cooking – including much barbequing, an occasional trip to the market (right by the bay), walking around the charming town, walking to other nearby charming towns, taking the occasional water taxi to slightly more distant charming towns, chatting with my people (which includes anyone who smiles at me – and many who don’t), playing Scrabble (it’s essential), putting together (as a group “effort”) a complex jig saw puzzle, reading the books I’ve been meaning to read for months, eating food that tastes better than anywhere else. Oh, yes, swimming in the ocean – carefully, of course, but it always feels like coming home. And relaxing – at the most basic level. Let me say it one more time: ahhhhhhhhh.