Sometimes I think water is magic. It has calming properties on me that I don’t quite understand. When I was a kid, we went on vacation to what my brother called “The Old People Beach” (AKA Oak Island). When we first started going, there was nothing down there but ocean, sand, and houses.
We would stop at a grocery store about 45 minutes away from the house we rented, then go to Maxway for floats small toys to keep ourselves occupied, and then when we got to the house we stayed there. We got up in the morning, went out on the beach, ate lunch back at the house, went back on the beach til 5 or so in the afternoon, ate dinner at the house, and then walked on the pier. My friends would all go to other beaches that had arcades, or movie theaters, or other things to do, but that wasn’t my style. When given the option, I would pick the “Old People Beach” any day of the week. If it was rainy, we sat and watched the ocean out the window, looking for lightening strikes or water spouts. The rain and storms never lasted too long and then we could walk on the beach before bed.
There were also some nights where we went “crabbin’.” Some people think this means hunting for crabs. Well, those people are wrong. Or maybe they just weren’t as redneck as we were growing up. To John Wayne, crabbin’ meant running around on the beach with a flashlight and a broom, spotting a crab and then chasing it until it ran back in its little hole. I know, I know. It’s a terrible thing to do. I still have no good explanation, but I laugh when I picture my brother running down the beach with a broom and remember my mom shrieking and laughing.
As I got older though, I learned the value of sitting in my chair in the sand and just staring out over the water. My mom called the beach her happy place. It was where we could try to find a little peace in the middle of chaos. We usually took a book of some kind, and special points if we didn’t have to watch the kids.
I still prefer the ocean above all other sources of water, but lately I find myself going to the lake a lot too. Not to be on a boat or get in the water, but just to stare at the water and think. It’s calming to me, letting my thoughts float along with the current as my mind wanders, clearing itself. Last weekend, I was being such a girl. I missed my mom, I was tired, I was sad, and I was mad at everybody. When I used to get like that when she was alive, mom would say, “If it feels like everybody in your life is a problem, they are probably not the problem. You are.”
I was to that point where everyone else was the problem. So I told Other Half I needed to run out for a little bit, and I just drove. I didn’t have any real destination in mind. I just kept going. After 30 minutes or so I found myself heading towards the lake access. I pulled in to one of the boat launches and pulled over, just staring, I was listening to an audiobook like usual, trying to keep my mind busy, but I just had to turn it off and try to clear my thoughts, Little by little, life felt easier to understand. (At least until I realized that I had no idea where the Papa John’s was that I called the pizza into, and got so upset that I called in pizza to a different one 15 minutes across town and paid again because I was so mad that this Papa John’s was hard to find, but that’s another story).
Nothing in my life is different when I’m at the beach, or the lake, but sometimes the water just makes life make sense again. Add a little Kenny Chesney and some iced coffee, and I have everything I need. Maybe it’s magic, or maybe I’m just a mermaid stuck in a human’s body. Either way, when things get too crazy, you know where to find me.