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It dawned on me last night that this is the very first vacation of my adult life that is simply about relaxation and enjoyment— every other vacation or trip I have ever undertaken has been to visit family, to attend a wedding, to be sealed, to speak or to appear somewhere. All those things are good things- but until this week, I have never just been somewhere, by choice, for the sheer joy of it. I adore travel, but there has always been a purpose, besides just “happiness.”

We’ve had no schedule. We’ve had no plan. And it’s been spectacular. This is why people like vacations so much, isn’t it?

Because of the tenderness of the sun-burnt and freckled faces in my care, yesterday we opted to visit the aquarium in lieu of another day in the sun. Bean has lamented his lack of aquariums since his 3rd grade field trip was canceled, Abby is always eager for science-y experiences, and Jeffrey is amiable and likes cuttlefish.

A massive lightning storm and downpour caught us in the car on our way back to our place, and as we pulled into our spot, a brilliant double-rainbow arced from the ocean far out over the island and disappeared onto the mainland. The sun was low enough in the sky that it was safe for us to be on the beach, and we walked down the boardwalk towards the deserted sand.

After a thunderstorm is a magnificent time to hit the beach. The sand was dimpled with raindrops, and cool under our feet, and the beach was empty as far as we could see. Clouds arched into the stratosphere, their glowing white cumulonimbus towers hitting the anvil shape as they leveled at the atmospheric ceiling. The full(ish) moon peeked barely over the steely eastern horizon, as the sun bowed behind is, turning the clearing sky a pink and yellow fire.

Bean ran right into the ocean with all his clothes on. Again.

It’s clear the ocean is his happy place. It’s mine, too. I suspect it might be for all of humanity. The unending power and rhythmic cresting and falling of the waves, the connection to the timelessness of the ongoing cycles of tides, the dependability of the moon waxing and waning, the waves never ceasing, the sand always piling up and eroding out from under our feet. No matter which ocean, no matter which beach, no matter which coast on which you find yourself, the constants of ocean, of season, of moon and of rhythm are rocks on which you can hang (and heal) your heart.

I stood on the edge of the continent, thinking about the sand under my feet, eroded from some of the oldest mountains on the planet, run down through the rivulets and unknown dark and secret places, to be here, kissed by the salty Atlantic. Warm sea foams around my ankles, and I watch the bubbles pop as the wave draws back, and the sandpipers run forward. My children mimic the birds, teasing and chasing the waves, except Bean, who stands, arms akimbo, staring at the wild sky, waves crashing around his belly.

No matter where we may ever live, this is one of the places we call home.

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Jon was called to the other coast this week, much to our dismay. We tried everything possible to cancel/move/change, but both his professional and our family plans were not movable… so he’s at the Pacific, and we’re at the Atlantic. We agreed to meet at the beach on either side of the continent yesterday. He may have also ran in while still in his clothes.

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