There is promise hovering in the cold Oklahoma air that may soon carry us south.
I have been longing for the sight and taste of a place I called home for twenty years. This morning, after two months of wishing, I picked up the phone-cum-magic wand to make my dream come true.
My husband and I are not traditional ‘snowbirds, what coastal Texans fondly (and not-so-fondly) call migratories of the human kind who descend south for a winter perch. Instead, our stay will be the barest of interludes. We hope to steal away for a few days in Advent, during that lesser known liturgical season preceding Christmas on the church calendar. Our arrival at Surfside Beach within this prayerful season of holy anticipation and waiting seems entirely appropriate, given that the word Advent — which derives from the Latin word adventus — means “arrival” or “coming.”
I have come to regard a certain white cottage that graces the eastside ocean front as our home away from home. Like all beach front property, the house is built on stilt-like pilings, which makes for spacious views. In the dark morning hours, I watch the fireball of the faraway sun shoot out of the ocean to break fast over darkness. A little later, I watch the graceful gulls and pelicans skim the ocean surface to break fast in their own way.
I understand their taste for seafood — except for breakfast and a few pilgrimages to The Dairy Bar in nearby Lake Jackson — it will be a seafood diet for me. Hopefully, we’ll bring back some lovely Gulf Coast Shrimp as souvenirs.
There are other souvenirs to pick up and gather. Like any familiar place that holds precious memories, a new trip to Surfside allows us to reconnect past dots of everyday life — memories of our children playing in the sand, a few sandy family picnics and even my husband’s proposal of marriage under a starry sky as we searched for Haley’s Comet. The beach reminds me of walks on the jetty with my friend Terri, as it reminds me of all my friends in and around Lake Jackson. Some I pray to visit.
Surfside is in the rhythm of our lives in the same way that the sun comes up and goes down, in the way that the waves sweep in and roll out and in the way that we breathe in and breathe out life itself. Even now I can taste salt air on my tongue and my mouth waters in anticipation.
Surfside invites me to encounter life beyond what I can truly know, beyond the wide blue sometimes brown sea yonder. At Surfside, I descend to the deep, where life below the surface is Real, no longer just an attractive shimmer on the surface.
It’s a good perch to watch and ponder life. To look back and forward and in and out. To stay still until I’m filled and it’s time to fly back home.“Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.” – T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton