I Need a New Beach

I said goodbye to my brother last week.  Well, really, I said goodbye to Carolina Beach last week.  Before he died in July, 2013, my brother worked and lived around Carolina Beach for about 30 years. So, many years ago, when I decided to run away from home, I ran to Carolina Beach, 4 hours down I40.

I had never been on my own.  I went to college 25 miles from home, met the retired man I now live with at 20, married him at 22 and had 2 kids by age 27.  I chose to be a 30-something stay-at-home mom of 2 little girls with a husband who was gone overnight several nights a week.

I needed to go away alone every so often to find the Robin hidden inside the wife, mother, friend, volunteer, room mother, and Sunday School teacher.

I felt safe at Carolina Beach.  My brother worked on a charter fishing boat, but he showed me where a couple of his friends worked if I needed help. I knew where the police station was and he knew some of the officers.  He pointed me to a safe motel, where I could get an affordable oceanfront room.

I discovered that the ocean fed my spirit and my soul.  I could rest there. Carolina Beach became my “thin place”–a place where the barrier between me and God became permeable.  I found Robin.

Last week I spent 2 nights in an oceanfront room.  I couldn’t rest.  I couldn’t feel God. I missed my brother.

Down one street was the motel he and his wife managed in the 1980’s.  Down the street behind McDonald’s and Hardees,  the charter fishing boats docked in their designated spaces.  I used to go watch when his boat came in and he cut up the fish they caught that day.  Near the boats was the diner where he took me to eat.  Across from the hotel, behind the pancake house, was one of the nice restaurants where I’d buy him dinner. It’s a seafood restaurant, but sometimes he’d order steak.  I’d laugh.

He always understood that I came to the beach to be alone.  He spent his days interacting with people and treasured his evenings alone.  We usually had dinner once or twice while I was there.  It took years for us to get comfortable enough with each other to sustain a conversation through a meal.

When he got cancer last year, he called me.  When he was admitted to the hospital, a week before he died, he asked me to come.  I was with him when he died.  I’m grateful now for all those uncomfortable dinners.

One day soon, my daughters and their families will join me and the retired man I live with for one last visit to Carolina Beach.  We will pour his ashes in the ocean and say goodbye.

I need a new beach.  Someplace where I can rest.  And tend my soul.

 

Published in: on September 30, 2014 at 9:05 am  Comments (9)  
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Best Birthday Ever!

Follow your bliss!

Pursue that which gives you joy!

I struggled with the bliss thing for years after I heard Oprah’s advice.  “Look back at your childhood–what did you most enjoy?”  I liked reading a book up in a tree, alone.  I can’t climb a tree anymore, but I still love to read and be alone.  I think I’m supposed to give more to the world than that.

I found a new joy several years ago at my first writing workshop.  (Thank you Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South–rcwms.com.)  I started this blog after a couple of workshops and I journal whenever the urge hits.  Maybe one day all the bits and pieces will evolve into a memoir.  I just know it’s fun.

A few weeks go my older daughter found a Groupon Getaway deal for 3 nights in a 2-bedroom condo at Atlantic Beach, NC.  I suggested that she, her sister, their 3 kids and I go for a couple of days in March for my birthday.  Both girls loved the idea and soon we had a reservation.

We had a plan. My younger daughter, her daughter Adaline (who is 3 now) and her son Atticus (who is almost 1), and I would drive in one car.  Maggie (14 months) and her mom would take their car and we would caravan.

The closer the time came for the trip, the more ways I imagined that it could go bad.  I started with the 4.5 hour drive (at best!) from Greensboro.  What if one of the babies wouldn’t stop crying?  And the bed situation in the condo would require cooperation and compromise from two moms who often debate who gets less sleep.  I wondered if either of them would back out.  I wondered if I’d be sane afterward.  Would we still like each other?

We were not able to caravan.  Work demands and leaving from two different cities, one closer to the beach than the other, killed that plan.  Each car could stop as needed.  “Never wake a sleeping baby.”  Even if you really, really need to go to the bathroom.

Adaline and Atticus both slept the first 2 hours of our drive!  I thanked God and our travel angels and just kept driving.  We stopped at a Hardees, used the facilities, sat inside and ate and pacified the kids with french fries.  We did what we had to do.  Forgive me, nutrtion-conscious friends.

On we drove.  We figured out we could put a pillowcase in the window to block the sun so Adaline rode content in her car seat, playing with an electronic kid-size computer-like thing and listening to our music.  Atticus sucked on french fries (forgive me, again) and played with toys and his electronic baby-size computer-like thing. Thank you whoever bought them these electronic toys!  We made it in 5 hours with some fussing from Atticus for the last 30 minutes or so.

Maggie and her mom had a 3-hour drive.  Maggie fussed and cried for the first half of the trip and then fell asleep.  Her mom did not have fun.  Maybe Maggie needed french fries and a baby-size computer-like thing.

The moms worked out the bed situation, we got everyone fed as needed, including lunch in a restaurant where they took our order at our table and brought us our food–no counters or paper wrapped sandwiches!.

After we played on the beach Saturday afternoon, all 3 kids (naked) and both daughters (in swimming suits) go into the big jacuzzi bathtub.  I sat on the toilet lid and took pictures.  We laughed and laughed and soaked up the joy amid the bubbles.

The trip home was easier for Maggie and her mom and the group in my car rode well, too.  The kids were all exhausted so, once again, “Never wake a sleeping baby” was our motto.

Now I know what “bliss’ means.  And where I can find joy.

I am so grateful.

Published in: on March 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm  Comments (14)  
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Amma on the Move

1.  I drove at least 100 miles in SC and saw only one Obama yard sign.  I think Romney’s got SC.

2.  Myrtle Beach dozes at the end of October.  I saw lots of big hotel/resort complexes with nearly empty parking decks.  I’m glad I wasn’t reading a Stephen King novel.

3.  I drove 472 miles round trip by myself for a few days of solitude at the beach.  I tried to detach and disconnect from my iPhone and laptop. CNN captured me with pictures and news from Hurricane Sandy.  I turned them off some of the time, but not enough.  I read a whole book in 2 days, though.

4.  I enjoyed filling up my Prius next to a big Chevy truck.  South Carolina gas costs a lot less than North Carolina gas.  NC has smoother roads.  I’ll pay the extra tax.

5.  The airport operated from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm daily.  (I thought airports on the east coast were shut down.) I was under the flight path for some big jets.  They came in bunches of 3-4 in a row.  Did you know Myrtle Beach has an international airport?

6.  Thanks to Yelp and my GPS, I found a nice natural food store in Myrtle Beach–Bay Naturals Healthy Market and Kitchen.

7.  You can find a beachware store with cheap t-shirts, hoodies and beach towels on almost every block of King’s Highway–Wings, Whales or Eagles across the street from each for miles.  No left turns necessary.  They all look the same.  Do they all belong to one company?

8.  I wanted to stop at “Fat Man’s Dream Dogs and Cream”, but it wasn’t open yet.  “Mammy’s Kitchen” was open down the road.  I didn’t stop.

9.  All hotel rooms should have a cushy comfortable chair, preferably with an ottoman.  My room had a small table with 2 straight chairs and 2 beds to sit on.  My back and my rear end forced me to alternate and I was never really comfortable until I turned off the light to sleep.

10. Black Ankle Road is an exit in NC on Hwy 220.  I looked up the origin of that one on Wikipedia:

The origin of the name Black Ankle is from the late 1920s or early 1930s when gold was discovered in 1928 near Franklin Mountain. Many people came to the area to try to make their fortune in the mine or to be laborers and make a decent living. About once a week, in the evenings after the working day was over, the miners would all climb on the back of a truck or trailer and ride to Star, Ether or Steeds to restock on supplies they may need to get them through another week. In the area where the Franklin Mountain (Blackankle Gold Mine) is located, the soil is very dark, rich and fertile. These miners almost always were shoeless when they went into town and the black dirt from the area, mixed with a little water, made their feet discolored and dark. Everywhere the miners went, people would see the feet of the visitors and say “Here comes the blackanklers.” It was soon after the discovery of gold that Black Ankle, from the miners with dirty feet, got its name.

Who knew?

11.  When I got home, the retired man I live with was watching CNN and using Google maps on his iPad to locate Hoboken, NJ.  Imagine saying that 5 or 10 years ago.

12.  Independent travel is a fun adventure.  Home is safe and warm and has my bed and pillow and the retired man I live with.  I’m grateful for both.

Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm  Comments (2)  
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Meandering Mind

1.  You can’t see your own ears.  Unless you look in a mirror.

I heard someone say that 3 days ago and it’s still stuck in my mind, a random, useless, captivating piece of information.  If I were an artist I’d draw a head on a long neck twisting around like a spring.  The face would be laughing.

2.  It’s a wonder the parts of the body work at all.  There are a few flaws in the design.  Like knees.

And the uterus is above the bladder.  A pregnant woman I know couldn’t pee for 12 hours.  Her baby was the size of an avocado.  (See babycenter.com.)  Her growing uterus shifted just enough to block urine trying to come out of her bladder.  Kind of like when you step on a hose hard to block the water so you can release it and spray your sister in the face.  Maybe the pregnant woman will uncork the tube from her catheter and spray it like little boys do.

3.  I’m at the beach.  At 8:00 am I sit on the balcony with my hot green tea and listen to the ocean and watch the waves just keep coming.  My soul rests.

I love the beach.  I want to hear it and see it.  I don’t go on the beach these days.  I sunburn easily and my brother has had melanoma.  I’m afraid of twisting my un-artificial knee.  I don’t like being hot.  And I’m never sure I’ll be able to get up if I sit down on the sand.

I love the beach, especially anytime other than summer.  I want an oceanfront condo with a shaded balcony, an unobstructed view of the waves and a comfortable chair with a way to prop up my feet.  A squishy couch for naps, a good novel, a copy of The Sun Magazine and five days of solitude all pamper my Spirit.

4.  Most living creatures are fine.  My zookeeper daughter used to take care of snakes and reptiles.  The little squiggly things have personalities.  One skink (no, not skunk) cuddled against her neck when she picked it up.  The snakes were boring, but I didn’t mind being in the snake room.  Her dad and her husband did.

However.  Slugs are totally disgusting and give me the shivers.  Slugs came to our front step every time it rained at our old house.  Some were the size of a fat dill pickle from a barrel at Mast General Store in Boone.

You can kill a slug by pouring salt on it.  It probably suffocates.  I bought lots of round, blue salt boxes each spring for 7 years.  I got excited, almost giddy, when I poured salt on the slugs.  (I killed the slugs when my kids weren’t watching.)

I’m not really a kind, compassionate person.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 10:30 am  Comments (4)  
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Carolina Beach, March 12, 2011 Random Observations

I set the clock ahead one hour last night so I was up early enough to see the sun rise this morning.  It peeked over the horizon with an orange edge.  I blinked, and it was all the way above the water line.  How did that happen so fast?

The fisherman moved the blue trash can away from the dune and closer to the water.  He stretched, facing the sunrise.  I thought he might do yoga.  He fished.  He never did put the trash can back.

I glanced up from my book.  I saw the feet first.  A surfer in a wetsuit was riding a dinky wave doing a handstand!  He did it again.

I want to squat on the beach like the 3-year-old toddler and then stand back up with a hop.  She was wearing a vivid blue dress.  Curiosity, wonder, flexibility–she was happy digging a hole and throwing sand into the wind.

An “older couple” walked down by the water.  Grey hair, loose shirts, a long floaty denim skirt, sensible sneakers.  They smiled.

The bright yellow kayak rode on top of a wave like a skilled surfer.  Where were his legs?  He had one oar with a flat paddle on each end.  He dragged the kayak across the sand when he was cold enough to quit.

The dad pushed a red stroller on the hard, wet sand close to the water.  The mother strolled alongside.  The wee baby hid from the sun.  How did they get through the soft, squishy sand?

He rode a bicycle down the boardwalk.  A little girl in a pink helmet and bare legs sat behind him.  What if she fell asleep?

A pale, skinny girl in a bikini walked down the beach with a tall, skinny guy.  She ran out in the cold water, got really wet and smiled.  He kept walking and she caught up.  No t-shirt, no towel.  She did it again, smiling.  He kept walking in his dry t-shirt.

Little dogs walked with their people.  They took busy steps while the people strolled.  That’s what happens when your legs are short.  It’s hard work to keep up.

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 8:58 pm  Comments (4)  
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