Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An Ocean of Stories

This post begins a series of pieces about our 2013 vacation. I'm not sure how many posts this series will contain. We'll see what happens.

By the narrowest definition I am not a Southern woman. I do not like sweet tea or anything sweet other than chocolate. I can’t bake light flaky biscuits (I have tried to learn because my husband loves them). I like very few of the comfort foods associated with the south: macaroni and cheese and grits. I do have an accent. I stretch the diphthongs of my personal pronoun you, and I often receive strange looks from others about my colloquiums. But I’ve only worn a dress three times in the last five years and not one time did I wear heels—not even wedges.

I am a border state woman. Kentucky—a place known for riding the cusp of events and eras and culture. Sometimes we are behind the edge in modern culture and trends, but I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. But sometimes, such as in the circumstances of the Civil War, we just weren’t and aren’t able to put our said foot down soundly on one side or another.

During our vacation I read Sophie Hudson’s A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. Hudson is the author of the blog: BooMama. Her book is delightful—full of wonderful stories and recollections of a Mississippian family. These stories quietly teach some deep life lessons. I believe we all have stories to tell. Whether we are Donald Miller, Ann Voskamp, Sophie Hudson or Mark Buchanan.

Perhaps that is the one mantle of being a Southern woman I do wear: I like to tell stories.

No, I love to tell stories.

This past week we (Steve, Abby and I) have been on vacation. Now for most families to be on vacation during the summer would not be out of the ordinary, but Steve and I have not been on an extended vacation for over five years. (Now, let’s be honest here: five years ago my husband moved from Santa Monica, California where he lived eight blocks from the ocean—that would seem like a perpetual vacation to me. He often rode his bicycle down to the beach and along a bike path that ran a course of almost twenty miles. Humph is all I have to say.)

This year we planned a vacation. The two of us sat down and actually looked at places to go and things to do. We consulted Abby. Steve’s parents offered us their home in St. Cloud, Florida. They are snowbirds and winter there and live the rest of the year in Tennessee. Their home became the central point of our vacation. We looked first at tourist sites and activities to do in the local area. Their house sits almost on the edge of one of Florida’s largest lakes and this fact, of course, offers a whole myriad of adventures. We planned several things: an hour long airboat ride on Lake Tohopekaliga and a feast at a medieval jousting event just to name a few. Although St. Cloud is an extraordinarily beautiful and exceptional town it lacked one thing: the ocean.

You have to understand (and if you are a close friend of mine you know this and are probably smiling right now, nodding your head) that I love the ocean. No, I don’t just mean like the ocean or enjoy being at the ocean. I love the ocean.

I have asked many, many friends to tell her hello for me and that I miss her. And those precious friends have written my name in the sand, stood on the shore and prayed for me and whispered my name out over the waves. I fear that I sound a little mystically loopy (too late I know), but the ocean draws me. It speaks to me. It pulls me as if I am tethered to its vastness. There is something in my soul that connects to the rhythms, patterns, sounds, scents, visuals and even the taste of the ocean. I can stand for a very long time and just watch and listen, and I can walk and walk and walk along the edge of its boundaries.

My first sight of the Gulf in nine years.

Morning walk on the b each.

I have seen the Atlantic at four different points along the eastern coast of the US and three in the Gulf and three in the Caribbean. (But someday. Oh, someday I want to see the Atlantic from the coast of Ireland!)

The ocean is one of my thin places. It’s the place where I often hear and see God the plainest and the quickest and the deepest. The ocean is where I completely uncoil and release all that I have been holding tightly—all that my mind has been wrapped around for days, months or even years. Now you might understand why this blog is named The Chambered Nautilus: Deep calls unto Deep.

During this vacation planning we knew we had to drive to one of the coasts in order for me to put my feet in the water. We chose a fairly secluded and unknown (compared to her neighboring sister beaches) place along the gulf.

I am so glad we did.

So, if you drink tea (sweet or unsweetened) or Diet Coke or coffee please, by all means, fix you a tall cold glass. Maybe even a piece of cheesecake? Then sit down in a comfortable place and join me for just a little while. Let this border-line Southern woman tell you a story…or two.

1 comment:

TARSmith said...

Oh yes, I smiled at that paragraph. And I've got my coffee. I'm ready for the stories. The ones I know you will tell so well. I love you.

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