I stand on the wood floor of the shower, the wooden slats above me showing glimpses of the summer afternoon sky. Just back from hours at the beach, I slip off my flip flops and flip on the faucet, as cool as it will go, trying to soothe the heat of my skin from the sun.

Five years ago when I first came to the beach with Dan’s family, I couldn’t imagine showering outside, then walking through the house dripping wet with only a towel around me. But it may be what I love most about the beach.

I love so much about this annual vacation.

The fact that all we do is sit and look at waves that climb in to the shore and out again over and over and over again.

The smell of the salt on the breeze, the white hot sun, the pine trees all around the house, the house itself built on stilts so any hurricane flood can wash straight through with minimal damage.

The two big family dinners for 30 people where we eat and we sip and we taste and we talk and everyone is just so nice.

That the kids cannot wait to play flashlight tag at night on the beach, and the patient older kids, in their late teens and early 20s, are so gentle, nurturing and trustworthy that I leave them to their games under the winking stars, knowing they are all having the time of their lives.

That while it is one week only and when we arrive I cannot imagine wanting to leave, by the end I have had my fill and drive away content to look forward to the following year’s return.

The outdoor showers, there are two, serve as the transition between sand stuck to skin, hair matted from ocean water, and repeat applications of sunscreen, and the house that stays relatively clean throughout the week that we’re here.

I can’t quite explain how soothing it is to enclose myself in this wood construct that is effectively open to the elements and strip down, bathing in the faucet that rains down over me. It IS soothing.

But there is more.

The freedom that comes with bare skin kissed by sweet summer air. The feeling of truly being out among the elements but safely ensconced in the hug of the natural world.

The knowledge that for this moment, for all the moments of this week, I am here and only here, in these moments, kissing the sun back, the blue sky, the moving clouds, the salty taste of ocean washing over me and swirling around.

Yesterday afternoon, my phone pinged with a text about plans for a day in September and I had to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t plan that far ahead. If we can make it, we’d love to join you.”

Because for now, this is where I am. Completely, wholly, only.

The problem we have so much of our lives is racing ahead and living behind. Never quite just being here. In. This. Moment.

Except there is nowhere else to be.

The other night, at our dinner party, 7-year-old Rebecca said something about the present being where we are and all we have. “That’s why the present is a gift,” I said.

She may not have gotten the double entendre, but I certainly did.

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