This year, my family and I rented a beach house together and will spend a week on vacation. The house we rented is only about 35 minutes from my actual house and 15 minutes from the house I grew up in. At a beach I grew up going to every chance I could. I was a beach girl, back in the day.
*1985 Stinson Beach. Crutches were mine from a non-drinking related ankle sprain. Actually, it probably did involve California Coolers
In my beach years, I had a tan, long Blonde hair and I dated Surfers. The beachy lifestyle continued through college (location changed) where I studied on the beach, worked by the beach, ran on the beach. You get the idea. When at last I found I could no longer tolerate ANOTHER beautiful day, I traded health and happiness for angst and suffering NYC-style. While in NY, I became an (aspiring) Actress, got rid of my Valley Girl accent and avoided the sun as well as overly-happy people. I learned I was actually a translucent shade of white and that I had been dating dumb-dumbs. No men in NY told me, “you think too much”.
I did have this uncontrollable urge when pregnant to dig a hole in the sand to put my tummy in so a few times in that 9 months I went to the beach.
Besides this moment of glory, I was an Urban Dweller all the way. When my son was born, we moved back to California to the town I live in now. As the years have gone by (13 now), the call to be by the water gets stronger and stronger. I realized this week sadly, that I have become that person that craves a somewhat different life than I live. And yet I don’t know if I can change my life, at least for awhile. Wise women have told me that the 70s Feminist Tenet of “having it all” is a myth. We can have it all, just not all at the same time.
Only after I had my kids did I start to comprehend the meaning of sacrifice. The purpose of my life became completely clear. I felt the full weight of providing and nurturing, endlessly. The necessity of stability and the exhaustion and satisfaction of being stretched thin. Parenting, especially single-parenting, is hardcore.
The good news and bad news about my kids getting older is that I now have more time on my hands to think about ME. For years, people would ask me how I was doing and I would be…clueless. Me? Feelings? There was no “me time”. I was thoroughly out of touch. Yet, I found great liberation in that state. Me? I am a Mom. I am working for them. I get up for them. I clean, work, think and act for their well-being. I loved this freedom from the self-centeredness of my past. The total lack of Existentialist questioning. Free from the naval-gazing emptiness I felt in my 20s.
On Vacation, we have time to reflect. I have accomplished a whole lot in my life thus far. And when I boil it down, I now think I will have really “made it” if I have a hot tub and can see the sunset regularly. This week I got a taste of what that feels like. And it happens to be a lifestyle I can’t actually afford.
Or can I?