Something happened last night that made me miss this, the writing part of having a blog. Connor showed us a school writing assignment that he needed to be printed (last minute, of course) from his Google Drive account. I read it and felt this bubble of complete surprise and bursting joy rise in my chest. I laughed aloud, reading it to Paul and Joel, while we shook our heads at the glimpse inside that boy’s thoughts. It was a moment I don’t really want to forget, one of those little things- so simple, but where I felt once again, over and over, what a privilege it is to be a parent. The fact that this boy, the little kindred-spirit-middle-child-of-mine surprised us with his hidden focus, made me want to write again. So I’m back at it, and here to stay.
We talk about it plainly, just calling it The Cape. As if there’s only one in the world, that there is no need to give specificity to its location. Because to us, it really is the only one in our world.
It’s full of sentimentality, that little strip of land in the Atlantic. I’ve thought about it for a long time, wondering what it is about a location that can create such a longing. It’s full of memories, of course. But it’s more than what has happened there. It’s the whole sense of being, the feeling of letting go of all else and soaking in the depth of its light and sound. Remembering things, spanning decades now, sharing them with our children as we make our way out, looking for re-creation of old things. It’s where I ran with my four sisters on saturated shores, lit with evening sun and shadow, strands of wet, sandy hair flying in concert with our steps. It’s where we ran up wooden stairs on the side of a hill, time for supper at Uncle Al’s. Where our bare feet still bear scars from splinters and sharp sea shells, reminders of a childhood brimming full. Where we saw the love of parents who cared enough to share stories as we sat on a dune facing the Atlantic, or stood at its shore, flying kites and donating them time and again to the White Cliffs of Dover. Where we sang with friends at sunset, Dolly Hill at our back and the wide expanse of water in front of us, darkening to a purple-black while the day faded away. I think about that a lot, the friends we brought with us, the sense of belonging we got to share. How even though time has changed and we’ve all grown, there is something specific and deep with those people still. I remember all the bike rides and scraped knees and camping tents, the whale watches and trips to the camp store, the laughter and arguing, the feeling of being a sibling, of really belonging. Of growing each year and wanting so badly for our children to know it like we did- starting early and camping before Joel was a year, sunburned and sandy and happy, looking at each other with a smile, knowingly. “This is right, he’s happy here, too.” Going up over and over each summer, Connor and Nora sensing its joy from littlest days. And then joining four sisters and four brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews and parents over and over again. Asking other dear friends to join us through the years, knowing they would love it, too, watching their children and ours run on saturated shores, their laughter and banter making our heart swell. We’ve been there in sickness, sought its refuge when we had fear and doubt all around us, and then when life was opening and blooming again. Last fall we talked about what to do for our anniversary, where to go. We’ve always talked about going to Ireland again, and will someday, we hope. But we kept looking at that little spot out in the Atlantic, where the light is like no other, where you just feel like you’re out on a sandy strip of land, where everything else is behind you and life feels serene and right. Where little cottages call to you, and convince you that you’ll stay in one, someday, and feel like Thoreau on its shores. So we went again. And Ireland or not, it didn’t disappoint. We relaxed and I watched Paul cook up seafood like it was his complete enjoyment. We walked and walked, with no plan at all but to listen to the Atlantic roar against the dunes. Just like we used to. The light played against sea grass and we took pictures, driving from Wellfleet to Truro and then back again. And true to form, the most derelict of little cottages sat in the late sun, beckoning. I told him that would be the one. “Someday, hon, that little cottage will see us in it, the kids scraping sandy feet on the porch.” He laughed and his eyes twinkled as he shook his head at me. But I felt it, knowing. We chased the daylight straight into the burning West, and breathed deeply, knowing we were there, in that moment. And Ireland or not, there couldn’t have been a better place to be, making memories again, planning for a future where we get to do this over and over and over again, always with the ones we love.