Friday, August 15, 2014

atlantic infinity

Here it is, finally. A tale from the ocean weaved together so perfectly. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you will enjoy it fully. Written by my brother, the talented Dane. Don't forget, if you have a favorite beach memory and would like to be featured here on the blog, send it to me at Without further delay…

We had come a long way for this. We had turned a 12 hour drive into a 15 hour drive with hourly potty breaks, a vehicle on it's last legs, and the need to preserve parental sanity with a few playground stops. We had scrimped and saved for 6 months, broken into our "college fund" (aka- big jar of loose change in the laundry room), and waited. Waited for the eternity of winter to fade. Waited for the interminable days of drizzle and cloud and the  seasonal depression that accompanies, to pass away into spring. Endured hours of work and meetings and the nonsense of a busy "life"- for this. The van crests the last hill before the highway settles onto the coming bridge, and we see it. The first glimpse of ocean. A thin green line running the length of the horizon, flanked by a strip of khaki. Windows roll down and for the first time in 670 odd miles(who's counting, though?) the van is silent. And for a moment everyone just breathes. 

There is air, and then again there is air- if you know what I mean. There is the dry-hot western air that seems to warm your very blood as you inhale, the clear air of mountains that hits the bottom of your lungs "like ether", and the wet, fragrant, nocturnal southern air- I love them all. But there is nothing like ocean air. The tang of salt and fish and mud that is somehow far more connected to memory and history than actual sensory perception. You can smell ships- schooners and shrimpers, and the trades and tradesmen that plied the waters and shores. You can smell oyster bays, and docks, and pilings and 200 years of exploring and shipwrecking and working and fishing. And you can smell the wind. You can smell the wind because it carries all of that on it's back and then up your nose. And it smells of a thousand moments of your life with sand under your feet and sun on your back and a view so wide and blue that it only ends where the earth starts to curve away. That is a lot to register and process, which is why we have to be intentional about how and what we breathe. 

So, two adults and five children sit silently- breathing intentionally, and feasting our eyes on the hope of a long and cold winter. 

We pull up to the house late in the afternoon. We've been here before and we love it. Every stick of it silvered by salt. Every board beaten by sun and blasted by sand until the softwood has been eroded and the hard grain stands out with a deep texture. The house is nothing special. In fact- the realtor had called it a "hellhole", if I remember correctly. She wasn't even trying to sell me on a more expensive one, just an offhand comment. It is pretty old, I guess. Everything is out of date. It still has shag carpet- in a beach house- can you imagine? It's pretty kitschy- dark pine walls, old shells and fishing lures, bits of nettting, some Japanese glass buoys that washed up. But I like it. At least it's not one of those places decorated with that faux-beachy crap that try to make it look like it has a sense of history and place. She's not fancy, but what she lacks in curb appeal she makes up for in location. She sits high on pilings- "like an old lady holding her skirts up to cross a puddle", as Ruark said, and looks out across a wide and shallow gulf front bay. And there is her true appeal. Proximity. Any closer to the water and we'd have to wear life jackets to bed. 

As I set bags down and look out across the empty beach, my children erupt into view. They are kicking off shoes, throwing off shirts,stumbling and tripping down to the wash. They are giddy with laughter and intoxicated on the 100 proof undiluted joy of a wild thing so beautiful and large that their souls cannot adequately imbibe. I look at the mountain of luggage in the middle of the living room floor and know- unpacking must wait.

It's been stormy today and the waves are larger than usual. Sand and sediment stirred by the upwelling cause the shore break to be tall and heavy. We don't care. We dive in and are pushed back. We bully through one wave only to be pounced on and roughed up by the next. There is a current running and before long we are a quarter mile down beach from where we started. It's getting darker. The low light and spumy water give the whole scene a bit of an ominous, sharky tone. We don't care. We stay out longer than we should, swim further than is prudent, and wholly lose our sense of schedule and duty. 

Finally we will ourselves to make for dry land. As we stand dripping and quietly staring over that Atlantic infinity, a little hand finds mine. And I find another, and then another until seven people; two big, five small- connect in a place and way that we have not since last we stood here. We breathe; in, out, in, out... and remember, this is why we came.


  1. Talent clearly runs in the family :)
    Love your blog, sweet friend! -Heather

  2. I heard Dane-like music, felt a gentle breeze and smelled the salty ocean air all in one reading. Thanks for the short vacation.

    1. It was lovely wasn't it? I'm ready for vacation now!

  3. Replies
    1. Me too! It's so good. I'm hoping you will write a post too, you're such a great writer:)

  4. It's a lovely prose! I used to always write short stories like this a few years back. A very enjoyable read :)

    Corinne x

  5. Ahh amazing place... ;)