Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beach Day

There is something to be said about being tossed around in Lake Michigan when the waves are particularly strong.  It's almost cleansing in a way, I guess.  (Is that the verbage I wanted to use?  I don't know.)

Perfect. Beach. Day.
Laughs and I went to Mount Baldy Beach on Tuesday.  It's part of the Indiana Dunes Lakeshore and it's one of my favorite beaches.  Somewhat private, no lifeguards, and on a weekday later in the afternoon you can find your own spot yards away from other beach goers. 

Last summer I spent every Tuesday or Wednesday at Mount Baldy Beach with one of my girls.  I clearly remember the first trip we made: a cooler summer day, breezy, and the waves were strong and powerful.  We'd spent most of our time there lying on our towels, listening to the radio just laughing and talking. 

At some point, however, I remember the water calling to us--the waves in their push and pull motion beckoning us to jump in, much like a close friend waves her hand to summon you over to whisper a secret or to tell you that there's a piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe.  A miniature piece of salvation from something or other. 

I was afraid the water would be bone-chilling.  I don't do well in cold water.  My body locks up and my lungs momentarily forget how to expand and contract.  Even on unbearably hot days I still would rather be doused in water that's just about lukewarm.

Nonetheless, I couldn't resist the roar of the powerful waves that day.  It was only about 70 degrees out, but the sun was hot and the breeze felt like the soft breath of someone at the back of your neck - sweet and warm but still sending slight chills.   We both walked slowly out to the shore, ready to be met by frigid waters that stung our feet and made us gasp and laugh at our own squeamishness at the same time.

Mother Nature isn't a cruel woman though.  And as our toes hit the surf, it was like stepping into a refreshing bath.  We stayed in the water for an hour or so, the waves beating against us and smacking us playfully in the face.  We laughed and we played, as the water rocked and tossed us until finally the sun started to sink down into the horizon.

I remember that day so vividly because well, if you know me, I live very metaphorically. 

(And if you don't know me...guess what?  I live very metaphorically.) 

I was going through a rough time, being unemployed with seemingly no hope in sight.  I was working to change the way I viewed myself and my world.  I was in a huge period of transformation -- one I had actually asked for because it was so important for me to really figure out just who the fuck I was.

Especially with 30 creeping right around the corner.

That experience -- that day at the beach last July -- felt like one of those moments where the Universe was like, "Tiff, enjoy things.  Be at peace.  You are taken care of.  And for godsakes, have fun."

And for the rest of the summer, and even up through now, that's exactly how I strive to live my life.

Cut to this past Tuesday with Laughs.   As I stepped outside to pick him up before our beach day, I realized the weather was strikingly similar to that July day last year.  It was cooler than it had been in a couple weeks and there was a soft, playful breeze.

We made the drive to Michigan City, laughing (of course) and talking, listening to music, sunroof open, windows down.  After unpacking the car and making the fairly long trek to the beach, I could see that not only was the weather the same as that day a year ago, but the waves...the waves were so big and powerful.  It was as if Mount Baldy Beach was welcoming me back from my long hiatus. 

Laughs and I set up our spot on an empty section of beach, but unlike last year, I did not fear frigid water.  We put on some sun screen and I ran laughing and smiling straight into the drink.

Again, like a refreshing bath Lake Michigan swallowed me up, and tossed us around.  For hours we stayed in that water - waiting for huge waves and being taken by surprise by the ones that snuck up on us and smacked us in the back of our heads.

So now, here I am, sitting at my computer thinking about those two different beach days - one where I was afraid to leap into the water and one where I dove straight in with reckless abandon. 

And both times I was met with joy, and laughter, and fun. 

Only this second time, I didn't waste any moments of being able to enjoy the water because I feared an outcome I couldn't see---that I couldn't even possibly know.

Which is kind of a metaphor for the way I'd like to live my life.  (Even though sometimes?  Sometimes I still fear the sting of the cold water.)

Holy fuck, you guys. 

I'm so deep right now. 

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