Last Monday morning I discovered that I had most of the week off from work. By three o'clock, my sister Molly and I were in the car, headed south with three babies in tow. My mom had left earlier in the day with Sena and Gus, and I planned on letting them enjoy some beach time alone with Oma, but an open schedule begs to be filled with sun and sand and surf. We managed to make the last ferry Monday night, and proceeded to spend the next few days in my happy place. My heart feels bigger but somehow lighter at the ocean's edge. I've read that the negative ions in the air near turbulent water are nature's anti-depressant. The ocean heals. Looking out at the distant horizon. Floating in the salty waves. Soaking in the sunshine. Playing with the ones you love most. These are the things that bring peace.
I hesitated before making the decision to pack up and leave. There were so many people to consider. So many feelings to weigh. Although I wasn't scheduled to work at the restaurant, I knew if I stayed I could pick up shifts. After a party, followed by a trip to New York, followed by a crab feast at our house, some extra cash would be more than a little helpful. Tom encouraged me to go, maybe in part because he was ready for a quiet house to himself for a few days, but also because he knew it was what I wanted to do. He reminded me that summer only comes once a year, and that although it seems like it will last forever, it's always gone before you know it.
As much as I like to make plans, I also want spontaneity. I want to be able to leave on a whim because the opportunity presents itself. With four kids, those opportunities are few and far between, which just makes it all the more important to never pass them up. As Molly and I quickly shoved clothing in whatever hodgepodge of luggage we could find, I reminded us both of how little we would actually need. A few diapers, swimsuits, and a change of clothes would get us through if need be. Even when I have made an effort to pack, one time I put Sena and Gus in the car without shoes. Another time I completely forgot to bring anyone underwear. Even shoeless and comando, it all works out.
I'm home with only Alamae, as the oldest three get in a few more days at the beach before heading back for a spell. Now to organize a neglected house. To contend with piles of laundry. For the next few weeks, I'll try to spend less. I'll try to pick up those extra shifts. But I even more that that, I will do my best to live this summer to its fullest in whatever ways and moments I can. After all, a summer well lived makes for an easy winter, or so I will try to convince myself.