He sat at the end of the picnic style table on the outside deck of the restaurant overlooking the calming ocean waves. Slumped over and carefully cutting his yellow fin tuna with the plastic knife. She sat at the opposite end of the table, iphone in hand capturing pictures of the setting sun with its yellows, pinks, and shades of blue stretching across the sky. Not a word was spoken between them.
We noticed them. The peculiarity of their relationship. Is this what happens after 50+ years of marriage? You inhabit the same space but need few words spoken to communicate. He, completely engrossed in his meal, and she happy to be out enjoying a sunset.
Her attention shifts to a group of teenagers on the beach setting up poses for their next Instagram post. Girls together, boys together, the whole group with a bystander clicking the picture. All the while, she is capturing the moment on her phone. Getting enjoyment from watching the playfulness and spunk of youth. Is she remembering a time with friends? Is she merely stopping to notice a moment, a slice of life around her? He continues to eat, savoring each bite, oblivious to her photo session in progress.
He is gone. Probably back at the car, sitting in silence, digging between the spaces in his teeth with a toothpick or popping a few Tums to prevent his post meal heartburn. She is still snapping pictures. A smile on her face. A Friday night out to dinner. Date night. Two different motives but both leave feeling happy.
The time is drawing near for our annual week long migration to the white sands of Florida. The beach calls to me in the short dreary days of winter, begging me to race there at my first available moment. There is something in that ocean air that relaxes me, refreshes me, and renews me as I prepare myself for the final push of the school year.
We are creatures of habit, so every year we do many of the same things. I love the structure of a beach vacation. The mix of resting and activity, the comfort of routine and with a little novelty thrown in. Here are a few of the things my mind keeps thinking about in anticipation of our trip:
unhurried morning coffee listening to the waves come in
reading and writing on the balcony overlooking the ocean
morning exercise of walking/running on the sidewalks lining the beach
unwinding in the hot tub
reading by the pool
lunch on the balcony
loading up for an afternoon at the beach
more reading, this time with my toes in the sand
happy hour in my beach chair
long walks along the edge of the rolling waves
little cooking and lots of eating out
yoga on the beach
bike ride to a quaint seaside town
maybe a hike, movie or shopping
Our family beach trips are a highlight of my year. It’s part of who we are and how we spend time together. The years we have stayed home or tried a different kind of trip just don’t seem right. This is a family tradition that has been a part of my life since I was a teenager, and I imagine it will continue until I retire and can spend more time by the sea.