From the Beach

We’ve been here for five days with my parents, in the seaside village where my mom played as a kid and I played as a kid and now May and August have spent days jumping through waves and rolling around the meadow and picking blackberries and eating crab. My parents just finished a complete rehab of the house they bought here 12 years ago, and it is gorgeous (see class post). Tomorrow, my parents will celebrate their 40th anniversary with a big ol’ party (60 people, and the house is big but not that big, so we hope for good weather so everyone can sprawl on the deck, lawn, and neighboring grassy lot).

Being here is always so evocative … jogging along the long, wide, sandy beach with the thousand sounds of waves blotting everything out, people walking along in the mist holding hands. Etc. The mortality! My now-gone grandparents who built the house down the hill with their own hands. My parents and their long-worked-for comfort. The sense that this will all be yours someday, daughter. My parents and their tech problems. My parents watching our little girls play. It’s so apparent that we’re all here so briefly.

It is utter privilege, these days, for a family to stay in one place so long. For me to be here caring for my daughters in more or less the spot where my grandparents took care of their daughters, and where they saw me play as a child and imagined that one day I’d be here doing this very thing. How lucky is that, to be in the same gorgeous spot where the people who came before us dreamed of us. On the other hand, no where on earth is it more obvious to me that we are only here for such a short time. That the space between baby and kindergartener and college grad and 40th anniversary and dead is almost none. Blink and someone else’s little girl is already growing up. Blink and you’re the one doddering in the corner, unable to hear and maybe not really caring what the thirtysomethings are saying any more.

May starts kindergarten on Wednesday, and, blinks of eyes aside, I’m really excited about it. She is so grown up, is going to learn so much, is going to love a lot about it. The brilliant Emmie had the foresight to snap a photo of May (and Emmie’s N’s) teacher at the open house we missed yesterday on account of being here, and emailed it to me, and May’s body relaxed when she saw it…an open, smart-looking face. “She looks like you,” May announced. (She’s prettier and probably younger, but all right, I’ll take it.)

Also via the brilliant Emmie: this poem from Rattle is so full of stunning line after line, it makes me despair about my own flabby writing and almost make me not want to write again, ever. Almost. Not for real, you understand.

Also, I understand that as the daughter and most responsible offspring of the couple of the day, I will be expected to give a toast tomorrow at this shindig, and I’m not sure what to say, although I’ve been scraping my brain about it all summer. My parents’ marriage is as big a mystery to me as anyone’s. They are both good people. They seem to just keep on sticking together. My mom does all the effing laundry. They fight, but then they usually end up laughing at each other. One of those things must be the key, don’t you think?

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6 thoughts on “From the Beach

  1. 40 years is tremendous. Maybe they took some of that work ethic that made them comfortable in their grandparent years and applied it to their marriage? Sounds like a great way to end the summer.

    My grandparents, my mom and my cousins and I all grew up in the same town, and leaving that town was a beautiful breath of fresh air to me. Maybe your happiness being there is a testament to your parents and grandparents. I wish you the same for your girls.

  2. C’s parents will hit 40 years next year, and it’s amazing to me. I think some people just decide to make it work! No one in my family ever lived anywhere for longer than a few years and no one owned property, so I can only imagine how deeply satisfying it is to keep visiting the same place and layering memories on top of memories there. Sounds heavenly to me.

  3. So many of the bloggers I read are posting about starting kindergarten. It really does go by fast. I look at my youngest, only 11 months old, and it is hard to believe that before I know it, I won’t have a baby anymore.

    Anyway- for the toast, there is a song by an Irish singer named Christy Moore. It is called “The Voyage” and I’m sure iTunes can find it for you. But there is a line in there about “when we started, it was just me and you, and now, all around us, we have our own crew”. That is what I think of when I think of a big number anniversary.

    My grandparents just passed their 55th anniversary. That sort of blows my mind.

  4. My parents are a mystery to me as well. Every marriage is it’s own country, I think.
    You know – my Bloglines reader wasn’t picking up your feeds, so I didn’t know you were posting anything recently. I just found them when I switched over to Google Reader since Bloglines is going out of business October 1. Glad you liked that amazing poem too.

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