Beach Time, Sweet Time

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

*I began writing this week’s column after returning from six wonderful days and nights at Paradise Island Resort in Gulf Shores and was reminded of a piece I had written two years ago. It was October again, another sweet week spent under near-perfect skies, a soft breeze cooling the days, and sunsets that made my heart stop. “Why,” I thought, “should I repeat myself when I have already written the same account?” So, I saved myself the effort it would take to recount the same lovely, melancholy, reminiscences. Here then is that column from 2015. Same beach, same month, same precious memories. I pray I may be there same time, same place, next year.

Well, that was maybe the fastest week in my entire life! Why is it that the days are so fleeting when life is so simple, uncomplicated, sweet? but in periods of trouble, Old Man Time hobbles along slow as molasses on a cold day. But, noooo. These past six lazy, sunny days were filled with an unhurried languidness and peacefulness unlike any Bill and I have experienced in way too long. These precious days have flown by with the brevity of the late summer showers we welcomed every day during the week we were away.
Nostalgia crept into the picture more than a few times; bringing hot, stinging tears once or twice. It was bittersweet watching young families building the requisite sandcastles, tickling hermit crabs from their homes, searching for shells and those elusive shark’s teeth. Years ago, our daughters spent hours and hours walking miles of beaches with their beautiful blonde heads bent, blue-green eyes focused like lasers on the burning sand, watching for that singular glint that signaled a shiny black, serrated, jewel of a tooth! Their hunt was always successful on the East Coast beaches of Jekyll, Myrtle and Isle of Palms we frequented in those days.
Yesterday I was startled out of a daydream and into a reality in which two tow-heads in orange life jackets raced into the surf, turned and waved proudly, over and over as they mastered the art of “riding a wave.”  Has it really been more than forty years since my two beauties were given the ultimate freedom of venturing into that great, big, dangerous ocean on their own? Has it been so long since they came dripping to my side to show off a near-perfect sand dollar? So many years since they would sit contentedly for hours digging in the damp sand, covering my toes, building frog houses? No, it was just yesterday.
I don’t need Einstein or any other genius of quantum physics to tell me that Time is Relative. In my mind’s eye and in the big ole tender orb that is my heart, there is a dimension, an alternate universe where Kim and Leslie are still little girls in patent leather shoes and pony tails. I almost caught a glimpse of them Friday, hair flying wildly, still wet from the outdoor shower at our rented beach house, just as they disappeared around the T-shirt rack at Alvin’s Island! Bill and I were shopping for a gift for our neighbors, who are looking after our flowers while we are in Gulf Shores, and for just a split second, there they were. My little girls. My youth. Oh, I know, I know. It’s a little crazy, but tell that to the catch in my throat or to my heart as it skips several beats.
Do you think these apparitions are brought on by the excess of those wonderful negative ions that are prevalent at the seaside? By too much sun? Dehydration, maybe? Am I alone in experiencing these melancholy episodes which bring the past into my present for one startling moment? “Of course,” you say.” Just sweet memories.” Perhaps. But they do leave me with the most marvelous Technicolor vision of yesterday, and as sad as I sometimes feel, it is lovely for one brief and shining moment to be transported to that halcyon past. It is true, you know, that we can indeed recapture the past for at least a little while, yet it is also true that we cannot make this thing called Time stand still. Sigh.

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