The year before our wedding saw two international trips, a new home (and two moves into it), three hospitalizations, two surgeries, and one new job. So I hope it is understandable that we had not desire to prepare an elaborate adventure just after four wedding, preferring to find a cottage on a beach at some point in the summer for the getaway we dubbed our “sortamoon”.
At the bar after our reception I mentioned this to one of my mother’s lifelong friends, and she responded as lifelong friends of my mother are apt to: with quick generosity. Without a second thought she offered us some time at her family’s cottage on the Connecticut shore.
We found a few days that would work for all parties involved and packed up for the village of Niantic, which was my main experience of “beach” all through my childhood, growing up landlocked near Hartford.
Though the town is on Long Island Sound we called it going to the ocean. On summer weekends the beach would be packed as far as the eye could see. My eye was always fascinated by what I could not see – the water past the horizon. I would stand in the water up to my knees or so and stare at that slightly sloping line of blue which promised mystery beyond it. I felt my own limitedness, mixed with life-altering awe.
For a while I was convinced if I swam too far out I’d be attacked my octopi. That is on the list of ‘things my mother insists she never said’, right up there with ‘if you turn around in church you go to hell.’ Octopi or not, I was content to stay near the shore, close to my family, with my feet touching familiar sand, enjoying my warm corner of that which seemed infinite.
For our getaway Robert and I spend days relaxing on that same beach. The view from the beach chairs that dear friends had bought us off our registry revealed a lovely but moderate-sized beach, compared to some of the others we’ve visited.
My heart still swelled when I looked out to the horizon, but I knew what was beyond my ken. There were no octopi, just Long Island.
Nowadays there is such emphasis placed on showing youth the world, on giving global education and experiences beyond imagining. I can see the value in this. But I’m so glad that there was once a time when I knew how much I didn’t know. I’m glad that there was once a time that everything I couldn’t see was fascinating. I’m glad that there was once a time when the world was big, and I was small.
John & Terry Ryan says
Margaret, your beautiful words touched us deeply. Thank you for writing of the experience. Being one of your mother’s life long friends is and has been an extraordinary journey. I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world. You spoke of our generosity but the true story is that we simply borrowed a page from your mother’s book. I wish you and Robert the types of friends I’ve had in my life, and that John and I have in our lives .
You are welcome at the cottage any time, just give me a chance to clean up a bit!
We love you two and hope for you the kind of joy that we’ve experienced in our life.
Terry & John