He’s the only soul in the world that’s real”
It builds and builds until it has nowhere to go but up and out, tip me over, and pour me out. It’s not necessarily unhealthy this way, I’ve decided, as long as it does come out – whether it be in streams and ponds, or rivers and waterfalls. It pours, and I tilt, and rise up to let it wash over me. No more building a dam; stopping it. This is real and I’m here too. This is where I say my piece.
The Beach House:
He’s the only soul in the world that’s real”
And that, my friends, is how this blog makes me feel. Some things are not about me, except for the parts that ARE about me, and this is my place about me. And all of the tears and fears co-mingle, until you stop knowing whose tears you’re tasting – salty, earthy, present. The talks started sometime in the last year or 17. How would I know? Cassidy’s dad built this house on the side of a hill in Truro, Cape Cod, 42 years ago. That house, saw everything a house should see. And as Cassidy said, “The Cape House is a state of mind that you don’t need to get to, physically.” Somewhere along the way, three houses was a lot for them, and they had to sell one.
And as Cassidy’s cousin, Molly, said best – she hasn’t yet grieved this loss, but she totally understands and accepts it, and appreciates Cassidy’s Facebook tribute to it. Those words stuck with me. And she said she didn’t even know memories and pieces of the story that he wrote, and of course, I didn’t either. I never will. So many love layers to unpack, and we don’t even need to unpack them – I’ll never be able to know and understand it all, except for my small piece of it.
Today I cried when they left – after three days and nights of pure magic and grandparents and kids and in-laws time. We were in sync, all of us in our own complicated thoughts and fears and hopes, and I’ll never know what I cried for. I cried for me, of course, but that’s not where it ends and certainly not where it begins. I cried for them, and their pain and their love and their hope. All of them. And the little complications that run alongside us – like distance and geography and misunderstandings and pain. Scarlet asked, “Why do you cry? Is it the house?” Peggy said, “It’s.. complicated, isn’t it?” Cassidy asked, “Is it time and its fleeting nature?” What can I say?
I do and I don’t. See, I never got to say goodbye. We went for a week this summer, which is about five days more than we usually go, so that will be my goodbye, I think. I thought I’d have more time(s) and I didn’t realize it would really sell. Of course it did – why wouldn’t it? A house filled with wisdom and love and cycles. It’s not just the house, though, is it? It’s all about what it means and sees and shares. And we can keep doing that, can’t we? YES. YES. A resounding YES.
Wheel in the Sky, 2007:
12 years ago, in this exact month, is when it started for me:
Not long after Cassidy and I got back together and knew it was serious, he took me to his father’s house in Truro on Cape Cod. It’s a long house in a wooded area on a gravel road that I always think is impossible to find. It has four bedrooms and has recently undergone renovations, but the soul of the house is intact. You walk into that house in July and breathe in the smell of summer vacation. You walk into that house in December and breathe in the smell of summer vacation memories. Summer could be far away but you can’t turn in a corner in the house without being reminded. Pictures and poetry hang all through the house. There is one wall in particular that captivates me every single time I visit the house. It always will.
It is filled, floor to ceiling, with photos of Cassidy and his brothers and cousins from babyhood to adulthood. It tells tales of being buried in the sand, of OREO and peanut butter sandwiches, of beach days and outdoor showers, of corn on the cob and ice cream and finding sand in your shoes long after you have gone back to work or school or winter and whatever other dreaded thing you escaped. You look at these pictures and you see a gift that children have been given. They have been taught to truly know joy and pure fun. Not everyone receives these gifts. The evidence is on the wall. It is written in every expression on every face of every photo. You can’t look at these pictures and not smile. I looked and thought, “I want that.” And I got that.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Parts 1 and 2, 2011:
And then about nine years ago, not in this here month, it started for her. And for them:
Did I mention I’m not really a beach vacation type? There’s only so much sun I can take and I didn’t even own a bikini until this past weekend. I do like to relax but as one of Cassidy’s wise cousins said over the weekend, “A family reunion isn’t rest and relaxation. Being alone or with one other person is.” He’s right. I usually choose my vacations based on adventures – moose, whales, interesting new places. I wouldn’t ever think to plan a crowded family trip in the same exact state I live in. Three+ hours away, sure, but the same state! Is that a vacation?
Sometimes I wish we could all live in the same place. Of course, then we wouldn’t miss each other so maybe I just wish the world was smaller. Or that travel was easier than it is. I’m sure it will be someday, but individually-powered jetpacks? I’m ready for you now. High-speed, hot-pink helicopter? I’m ready for you now. Superhero power of flying? Been ready for you for far too long. And I haven’t fully given up hope, by the way. I probably logically should have ages ago.
It’s bittersweet to end this story of the first family trip to Cape Cod, but I have uploaded all of my photos. It’s been nice to have three ready-made blog posts because I’ve been too heat-dazed to do much heavy thinking. I suppose I’ll have plenty to write about soon. Probably, always. This.
It Was My Turn, 2012:
I have written before about when you’re going through a life-altering crisis or tragedy and you walk around in the world and people just seem so light and airy and easy and happy. And while it may not be true and surely we all have our issues, that does not mean that everyone is going through a life-altering crisis or tragedy at all times. We do have our blessed off times. And we do walk around and drink coffee and enjoy the sun and talk about the weather. And baseball!
So we remedied that over the weekend. Hit the Bowman family beach house in Truro, Cape Cod. Saw relatives we hadn’t seen in over two years. Hit the ocean for sun and fresh air. Hit the bay for earth-shatteringly good sunsets. Hit the ice cream parlor for some of the best ice cream of my life. And we mostly just hung out together. Everyone was in true relaxation vacation mode. I guess as a new mom of two, I couldn’t stop being a new mom of two, but I got a heck of a lot of help with Scarlet and Des. They both were wonderful and calm and Des managed not to wake anyone up during the two overnights. He woke me up, of course, but that’s par for the course.
Head and Heart Places, 2013:
When we arrived at the beach house, we had spent about four hours in the car – two hours on 91 and the Mass Pike and two hours in Cape Cod summer traffic. And yet the second we got out of the car and stepped into our (very short) vacation, we instantly settled into relaxing. It was as if the crazy hadn’t just happened. And that’s what I want to remember. The way you can change your tune and move your head and heart into softer places. Relaxing places. Happy places.
Taking it Easy, 2014:
My favorite part of summer, 2014. Without a doubt, it was going to Cape Cod to be with family. I still have to share those many photos, and that will surely be done in two posts soon. It was a wonderful time. I might have actually taken it easy in the real sense. Even though vacation with kids is not very vacation-y, I had zero allergies out on the Cape, and minimal anxiety, if any. We truly needed a family trip, and every summer’s end, I mourn the loss of chances to look for moose and I mourn the loss of chances to visit Cassidy’s family’s beach house.
A Missed Whale’s (Tail) Tale, 2015:
We all met at the bottom of the lighthouse by the water and found out that Des and Cassidy had seen.. a WHALE jumping out of the water. People were talking so excitedly about it, and we only missed it by minutes. We waited and waited, but that whale and its tail swam away. Now a little known fact about me is that I used to feel about whales how I feel about moose. Whales are my second favorite animal, and I’ve had a magical whale watching experience, but they’re always still on my mind. I’ve never seen them from land either. Perhaps it wasn’t our day, so we went and had lunch at Moby Dick’s Restaurant – almost the same thing, right? Well, no, but the chowder was amazing. Perhaps there will be many more chances to see whales. Next time.
Maybe we’ll go back in late August or September. Maybe even October. Maybe we won’t reunite with the ocean until our annual Florida trip in 2016. Maybe there will be whale tails and tales then. Maybe it’s all waiting for us. Anything’s possible.
Summertime Memories, 2016:
One of the most magical places we go to in July is the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. My father-in-law built it decades ago, and has kept up this four bedroom, two bathroom wonder for all this time. It’s only improved in style and design, but the general classic “beachiness” about it stays intact. Truro is probably the quietest part of Cape Cod, but it’s near all the action and delight of Provincetown. When we go, I’m actively aware that we’re creating similar summer memories for our kids to the ones we have had. It’s place of safety and excitement, comfort and wonder, and all of the summer delights of a perfect beach house experience. I love raising the kids to know this as a place they can go to answer the calls of summer.
Cassidy introduced me to the house when we were dating the 2nd time. Before kids we’d go there to get away, or even to fight morning sickness in a remote, beachy place. Now that we have kids, it’s even better. I love the gravel road, the hammock, the wraparound deck, the outdoor shower, the cool breezes, the swimsuits hanging to dry, and the people coming and going all day long. I love that we carve out our spaces of summer happiness – sometimes apart, and mostly together.
They Say in Heaven, Love Comes First, 2017:
It was our first year with two dogs and we didn’t know until the last minute that we were bringing both. With my in-laws’ new house in Florida, and their house in Connecticut, I honestly didn’t/don’t know the fate of the Cape Cod house. I hope it’s always ours, or more likely – theirs. It’s not up to me, but boy, do I want this for them. More than I want most things.
So there was that strange sense of urgency, and there was a weight I don’t always have. A heaviness. It wasn’t a hopeless heaviness, though, like a dark and suffocating presence. It was more of an irritating heft on my chest and around my throat – telling me that I was ok and still had all that good stuff inside of me – but sometimes the demons come out before dark.
The Stories We Tell, 2018:
I grew up with 7 grandparents and my kids are growing up with 6. And I just lost the last of mine only weeks ago, and I not-so-secretly and magically want my kids to have all six for the next thirty years or so. Whatever it takes to bend time and let the stories go on. Grandparents are laughter in the rain, echoes in the wind, and footprints in the sand. They are everything.
They’re truth and consequence and buried secrets and wonderful release. They are time on water and joy through tears.
They are history and power. Dreams and time travel. And they are full of stories and memories, because one day we are nothing but stories, so you might as well make it a good one. My grandparents and my children’s grandparents give me that sense of both peace and urgency that everything is ok/not ok, and that it all boils down to love. My grandparents and my children’s grandparents infuse me with the parenting I aim for and sometimes even achieve. All that stuff. It matters. It sticks with you. Where you take them, what you feed them, what you tell them, and how you tuck them safely into bed. Every night. Sleep tight. It’s all a state of mind.
And in the End, November, 2019:
Our vacations were mostly very concentrated into two days but those two days held everything we needed – rest and relaxation, seafood, ice cream, sunset, and beach, beach, beach. I’ve been trying to imagine what it’s like to be three or 10 or 39 on a beach vacation with your family and someone offers you a giant inflatable swan to glide on in the middle of a gorgeous, calm bay.
Love is what sustains us and lives on. Washes over us and lets us release our fears and demons into the refreshing expanse of salt and tears. This is where you get a do-over, a start-over, a sequel, a trilogy, and a miracle. I believe in things we believe in, because we think we have time.