“Take me to the ocean. Let me sail the open sea. To breathe the warm and salty air and dream of things to be.“
The best way to begin the process of moving on, Suzanne and I have discovered, is to take a trip. Preferably, a beach trip. Getting out of our daily and weekly grooves gets us out of our heads, which is a good thing. Not to be confused with out of our minds, which is what may have happened if we hadn’t come to the beach.
The only thing missing was Gail. Our adventures are never the same without her, but we had her blessing to go on without her, so we did. She is our beacon, our rock, our guiding force of wisdom (and fun), but she couldn’t step away from her multiple obligations in order to get away. All those plates spinning in the air around her would crash and fall, and then she would have to start over. And she would, of course, because this is who she is.
This, however, is not what her little sisters are. We purposefully and decidedly passed on the obligations of keeping our plates spinning in the air to someone else, and we stepped out from underneath them. Our replacements picked up where left off, kept them in the air, and we both walked away, with nary a quick glance over our shoulders. We both knew it was time for change, so, we made those changes. Both of us. At almost the same time.
The best part is this: neither of us regret it. We both know we made the right decision.
Currently, as I write on this Friday evening, Suzanne and I are sitting in our condo in this idyllic beach town in the Florida panhandle. We shopped this morning, had lunch and then beached it until the storm hit. Feeding time soon rolled around again, and we had dinner, followed by a sunset walk on the beach.
Talk about getting out of the groove. There is nothing like the waves crashing on the beach to get us out of our heads, and keep us from losing our minds.
Now, this is not to say that Suzanne and I have thrown all caution to the wind; we haven’t completely abdicated our adult-ish responsibilities of work and other obligations. We are simply re-thinking, refreshing, retooling, relaxing, rejuvenating, reframing, re-ordering our priorities. Both of us, at precisely the same times, knew it was time to make changes in our work lives, so we are doing just that. Because we both made these decisions separately yet together, our timing was perfect to give ourselves a little beach break in between.
Again, it is never the same without Gail. We found ourselves more mellow, more subdued, more reserved than if she would have been with us. This is not to say that we were quiet by any means, but just not as extroverted as Gail typically is. There were a few moments, during the post-tropical storm Fred rains, that we needed Gail there to jump start other, non-beach kinds of fun. We did manage to find things to do (shopping, puzzling) that were possible in the rain.
Did I say in my last post that the trip would be half the fun? I think so. However, if you decide to make this 17-hour trip to the Florida Panhandle any time in the near future, we strongly recommend considering air travel. We did see some beautiful country, and we did enjoy our time together, but two days in the car may be a bit much for even the closest of sisters when the beach is calling. Suzanne threatened to hop a plane back after the trip there, but as with most of her threats, it was idle. Good thing, because I needed her as first mate for navigation, as well as a break from the driver’s seat. How did we figure out how to travel before navigation anyway? How did we know exactly which turn to take? How did we know that those residential streets through Mobile, Alabama were the quickest route?
Perhaps they weren’t. Perhaps the human brain’s ability to use a map and employ its pathfinding skills is under-appreciated. It is very likely under-stimulated since the advent of navigation, and this is not always a good thing. Suzanne had the good sense to take along a paper road atlas; it is always there when we need it, and it never changes its routes.
It seems we silly humans always know what is best for us, even when it’s not the easiest thing. Like using a roadmap in conjunction with navigation. Like making work changes. Like working our brains to tap into our deep wisdom. Like listening to the little voice inside to make other big life changes.
Which is what Suzanne and I have tried hard to do to make these changes, and neither of us regret it. We have a lower tolerance for the work-related difficulties that Gail skillfully, artfully and expertly lets roll off her back. The older sister is usually the best at this. We’ve both cried ‘Uncle,’ and we’re moving on.
And all three of us are happy with our decisions, which is the best part. The beach trip confirmed this for Suzanne and me.
Suzanne and I will keep you abreast of our changes when the time is right, but suffice it to say at this point, our new work faces will have same of the same features of the old ones, but some new ones, too. Stay tuned.
A quick look at the current weather radar for the southeast United States will show the projections and trajectory of Hurricane Ida. My heart breaks for those whose lives will be torn asunder by yet another show of Mother Nature’s wrath. I am thankful, however, that our trip home was five days ahead of this devastation. Much of our route was in those bright, but foreboding colors on the map. Suzanne, in her unique, but twisted sense of adventure, has always wanted to be in the thick of a hurricane. As much as I love her, I don’t always understand her. It’s her (and Gail’s) affinity for wind. Not mine, thank you. I find whatever ways I can to escape the wind, and Gail and Suzanne are like moths to a flame in the wind.
In order to pull up anchors and set sail however, one must have a little wind. One cannot expect calm seas at all times. For example, when we got in my car to depart for home, the dashboard screen was lit up like a Christmas tree. Check engine was the first warning I saw, along with several other high-tech warning symbols. I let the first wave of panic splash over me, then, in her little sister wisdom and foresight, Suzanne quickly pulled out the owner’s manual. The most likely cause was a loose gas cap, but after tightening it–I’m pretty sure it was a bit loose–the lights remained bright. Several stops and starts to reset the engine were attempted, but to no avail. A quick call to my Mark-of-all-trades husband confirmed our next step: take it to the nearest authorized dealer. $174 and some change later, the fine folks at Subaru of Fort Walton Beach unplugged those Christmas lights, set them right, and pronounced us okay to drive home, but check it out at your authorized dealer if it lights up again. We made it home with no further warnings.
Thank you, Charlie–their master mechanic. That was a small price to pay for the peace of mind it gave us.
After I settled upon this title, I found this treasure in a shop next door to our condo. It was the last one, on clearance, and in my size. I couldn’t leave it there. Along with several other souvenirs, this shirt will remind me of our adventure: Suzanne’s belated 50th birthday party.
This view will be a treasured memory, also: Suzanne’s love for Ferris wheels drew us to this one in nearby Panama City Beach. We had so much fun riding it Saturday night, so we went back Sunday morning to see the view from the top in the daytime.
Another of Suzanne’s favorite parts was this:
We got to meet, and gather the story of Carrot, the beach cat, and his owner J.T. They both live on the beach. Thanks to another interested tourist, Carrot even has his own Instagram page, should you choose to follow as well: Carrot the Seagrove Cat. Both Carrot and J.T. were characters, living the beach life by choice every day.
The miles home seemed to stretch on endlessly, as they often do on the return trip. Mississippi turned into Alabama, and we turned in for the night in Pine Grove. Hitting the road the next morning before 8 a.m., we welcomed Fort Smith, then Tulsa, Wichita, and finally Salina shortly after 5 p.m.
True to Kansas-girl form, there really is no place like home. But the beach will always beckon us, always fill us with new hope and strength to work on our next dreams, whatever they may be. For now, however, we are pulling up anchors from our old ports, but we won’t travel far to our new callings in life. We are anchored here, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
But that salty air and the crashing waves helped us realize that. If you, too, are being pulled to the beach, we strongly recommend finding a way to make your trip there. Pull up your own anchor, and sail away. Come back, if you choose, like we did, or find your new port. Whatever you do, batten down your hatches and make your own waves.