It has been brought to my attention that yesterday’s post was a little… well, a little too “safe,” and that I did not let you see me. I think Mr. Turner was right on with that constructive challenge, so I’m back again to post a more realistic follow-up.
The truth is that I knew it was plastic when I wrote it. I couldn’t even find my feelings on the beach, much less after I got home.
“Take off your emotional clothes and be naked. It’s scary. But this is where safety lies. The core place. If we can sing, dance, paint from that place, we cannot be wrong. Got that?”
The weather was gorgeous. Nice day to go to the beach, I told myself. But you won’t really do it, said my other self. Oh yes I will, argued the stubborn one. Stubborn won the battle, and I smugly packed a bag with some critical supplies for puppy and for myself.
I chose a white, flowing skirt, which made me feel feminine and casual, and also covered up my winter coat of several extra pounds and haven’t-seen-the-sun-in-a-year white legs. I felt so proud of myself as I settled Mimzy into the car in the passenger’s seat. Ha, I said. I told you I’d do it. I was off to join the living – the real people who are outside and who walk around at the beach on sunny days.
I improved my mood by listening to my favorite beach-day music on the way. The songs brought back fun memories and fantasies about being 20-something again. If only I had the confidence I have now and the body I had back then, I thought. I can’t have a do-over, but I can get my butt back to the gym and look good for my age. Note to self: Go back to the gym tomorrow.
I found a parking spot right in front. In a few weeks, that will be impossible, but for now I felt like I had won the lottery.
I felt excited as we walked up the street to the sand, but that quickly faded when the first thing I saw was a big sign that said “No Dogs Allowed on Beach or on Beachwalk.” Now, I remember signs last year about dogs, but I thought the rule was only applicable between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Before I had time to make a decision, a nice couple came up and went bananas over the cute puppy. They also own a Cairn Terrier, and they could not say enough nice things about this breed. That temporarily made me feel better.
Ultimately, several cute-puppy pettings later, I decided to take my chances and hit the boardwalk. I don’t break rules. I’m a rule-follower – a rule-enforcer. I was nervous. I looked around for officials. I felt like everyone I passed was frowning at me for breaking the rules, but they just smiled or stopped to pet him.
On top of the nervousness, I turned on my Mom mode. I didn’t do it consciously, but there it was… I worried and fretted about every little thing. Was the sand going to get between his pads and hurt him? Was it too soon to have him in such a public place, since he hasn’t finished his rounds of vaccinations? I don’t have a license yet – would the police stop me and give me a ticket? I wonder how much it would be? Why won’t he drink the bottled water I poured for him? He’s panting – maybe he’ll get dehydrated… and on and on went my head.
And Mimzy didn’t seem to be worried about anything at all, except to get wherever it was he thought he was going.
Since I had already broken half of the rules of the sign, I decided it was okay to go the distance and take the dog on the beach. I wanted to put my toes in that sand.
But Mimzy seemed anxious and restless, and so my quiet time on the sand was stressful for me, because I was thinking about the dog and what he needed.
It made me remember all the times I’d been to the beach with my children, and how hard it is for me to just relax. Always worried about them getting lost in the crowd or wandering into the sea before I knew it… I never could understand how their father could actually sleep! And this wasn’t even a child – it was a dog – on a leash, no less.
I did have a couple of brief moments where I let go and felt my body sink completely into the sand under my towel… where I felt the sun penetrating my skin and warming my insides… where I got quiet and actually heard the waves crashing and the seagulls screeching.
I almost made it through the afternoon without a single acknowledgment of my very naughty rule-breaking, but at the very end, we ran into a smart little girl – about 7, I’d say, who asked me if I saw the sign “up there” that said no dogs allowed. Sigh… Poor little thing… she’s going to grow up to be a nervous wreck. Too bad I couldn’t warn her. And there was her grandmother, doing crunches in the sand as her grand-daughters buried her feet and legs up to the knees. I hope I can get my act together before I’m that age and figure out how to enjoy the present moment, instead of worrying about my abs while my grandchildren play around me.
But I felt good on the way home – like I had accomplished something, even if it wasn’t all that I had wanted it to be.
I told you I’d go.