Wednesday, April 7, 2021

By the Sea


I can’t tell you how excited I was as I headed for the Ninth Street Bridge. I had a day off and decided to take a trip to the beach. I drove across the bridge, passing the visitors center, the fishing pier, and the exact spot where an enormous American flag had hung on a construction vehicle high above the bay the summer after 911.

I entered the city, parked my car, got out, and then backtracked wanting to be sure I knew exactly where I’d left my vehicle when I returned to it later that day. For a moment, a trash truck backing out of a driveway blocked my view. I hurriedly walked around it and climbed the steps to the boardwalk where I saw the sight I hadn’t seen in almost two years - the Atlantic Ocean stretched out before me. I held my breath, taking in its beauty, and its breadth - its steel-blue color, and the silver sheen the sun left on its surface.

For the next couple of hours, I walked first along the boardwalk and then on the beach determined to exceed my daily 10,000 steps. 

Feeling as though I wasn’t close enough to the water (and maybe daring myself a little), I climbed up onto a rocky jetty. Two thirds along it, wondering why I had subjected my almost 80-year-old body to this precarious path, I turned and started back.

“Are you okay?” a woman with a little girl asked as I got ready to jump back onto the sand.

“I am,” I said. 

And I was.

Back up on the boardwalk, I was tempted by a sign featuring an enormous ice cream sundae. Knowing that to indulge would negate my 10,000 steps – today’s, yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s, I kept on walking.

After lunch I headed back to my car aware that as beautiful as the ocean was, its vastness had not done for me what it usually did. That is, it hadn’t caused me to see myself and my problems as smaller and less consequential than they seemed before I arrived.

But maybe I thought, as I unlocked my car, I didn’t need the ocean for that. Maybe the events of the last year – the virus that threatened everyone on this earth - had already helped me to see how inconsequential I and my problems were.   



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