the sun is sinking.
The geese are flying south,
It sets me thinking...
I did not miss you much,
I did not suffer.
What did not kill me,
Just made me tougher..." ~ Sting
The beach has figured prominently in my life this summer. I live a mere ten minutes away from the ocean, but I didn't see it once in May or June, except for one lunch on Wrightsville Beach with my son and that wasn't so much fun because I kept getting unwelcome and randomly bizarre text messages every five minutes or so, each one more inane and pointless until it reached the point where I simply turned my phone off. It is curious how much time we waste on annoyances and interruptions, until we realize that there is a power switch. This summer, I found my power switch in more ways than one. I also learned how to use it.
Today when I was staring hypnotically at the horizon, I thought about all that had transpired this summer. To say that things were crazy this past year, would be an understatement. I sat there running through an emotional inventory and I guess that was completely understandable given where I was standing, and remembering events of just over a year ago. It was the first time I'd been back to that spot of sand in months.
On the way there today, I wondered if I would be met by a flood of memories - would I feel sad? Would the sight of the gazebo bring a torrent of emotional regret, triggering painful memories and wondering if I had done the right thing or made a huge mistake? I also took the liberty of giving myself permission to feel whatever it was I might soon feel. After all, this particular beach was a prominent fixture and landmark of what had been. Go ahead, I said to myself, be prepared to feel some sadness, let the tears fall if they threaten, it's good to allow these emotions to run their course. It would be unhealthy not to, I reasoned.
There was no torrent of tears, and oddly enough, no flashback of memories from the past two years. I have no real explanation for that, but it felt so empowering to be savoring my present, with no distractions of the past. It was almost as if the whole of the past two years had been washed away with the tide and really, it made an interesting sort of sense. I came to the realization that the foundation of it all was no more stable or substantial than a sand castle, so why wouldn't the tide take it away? It stands to reason if you think about in those terms, and those are the terms I choose to use.
I have felt so devoid of feelings in the time since this relationship ended, and I couldn't help but wonder if, on some level, I had been compartmentalizing my emotions in order to deal with the work at hand, meet my deadlines, hit my marks, until I found a time when it would be safe to process all of the feelings I feared might be waiting to unfold. The oddest thing, something I don't even truly understand, is that there was nothing to compartmentalize - nothing to divide which, in an odd sort of way, resembles the reality of the relationship that is no more.
The good news is, that by virtue of the "nothingness", this couldn't be a messy break-up in terms of who gets what, because nothing was shared. Things were lopsided from the beginning and in terms of material possessions, a home, furniture - the "remains of the day", remain in place, and remain with me. And in some way that really is a metaphor for the entire 11 months and one week - we retained what we put into the union - and I still have everything I did before, with the added bonus of a little more wisdom and a lot more gratitude. In hindsight, it could only go one way, and if it was destined to go there, I'm glad for both of us that more time wasn't wasted.
It is so surreal to look back on something and view it almost as if it never was. I almost wish it hurt, that I felt a heart-tugging absence, an emptiness, a missing piece - and in reality, I know that by all rights, I should feel those things; I don't think I mourn the relationship as much as I mourn the reality that there never truly was a viable relationship. I guess you can't honestly miss what was never truly there, and I am sad to say that I believe we must have been "missing in action". Maybe we were never present. How unfortunate for both of us and yet, no longer enough to elicit a tear. I never would have imagined that the real pain isn't the pain of something lost, but the pain of something that never was.
I thought about that for a time, and then I caught sight of a magnificent flock of pelicans skimming over the water, perfectly aligned in a V-formation. And with those pelicans, so went my thoughts, and then the present came clearly into view before me. I am so grateful to have my "now", to be present in the "present".
After our walk on the beach, Stephanie and I headed for The Artisan Cafe at Mayfaire. We had a sumptuous dinner, sitting outside and watching the sunset, finishing things off with the decadence of a dessert called "The PMS Brownie" and it took chocolate to a whole other dimension. I'm going to revisit that place very soon and skip the entree and head straight for the dessert.
This is an important week and I hope to find myself back on the beach in a few days. The Perseid Meteor Shower is slated to peak on the 12th and 13th and I love searching the sky for shooting stars. I now know I can safely go back to Fort Fisher and sit on the beach and look up at the sky without staring back into the past. When I looked toward the past today, there wasn't really anything there, and that's almost more disturbing than if there were lingering, bittersweet memories - but it is what it is. I guess that means the coast is clear and it might be a good time to look into making some new ones.
I never pass up the chance to wish on shooting stars; I made them two years ago and I will make them again but I will bear in mind that it is good advice to "be careful what you wish for", however, the experience wasn't so disturbing that I would be remotely afraid to make new wishes. I'm much too obnoxiously optimistic to give up an enchanted evening of star-gazing and forfeit the chance to make a wish. Maybe 2004 was just a bad year for shooting stars. This year looks, and feels, so much better. There is hope and, a few months ago, it would appear there was nothing. If it's all the same to you, I'll take the hope.
I can see clearly now. I think the vision was always clear, perhaps my eyes simply needed time to adjust. Regardless, I am so greatful for the clarity. I don't even mind the hindsight.
It was such a gorgeous day to be near the ocean, not a menacing cloud in the sky, but lots of puffy white nonthreatening ones, and I just breathed it all in, watching little squiggly creatures diving into the sand in the wake of each gentle wave. Everything looked so bright, so shiny, so completely unspoiled! I wanted to walk along the shore for something like forever. I felt very much as I did when I was small, afraid that someone would call my name and tell me, "don't go too far, it's almost time to go!" Fortunately, no admonition was forthcoming; I was charting my own course.
The only regret I felt, was that it had been much too long since I had seen the sea, and I made a promise to myself not to go so long between visits. It makes no sense not to be there more often. I always feel as if I have had my batteries recharged following a coastal communion, trying to take it all in, and knowing that it's just not possible to do so. It feels so free.
So do I.