Although the calendar reads February the weather has been mild and when I leave work, the sky is still bright. Aching to move and fill my lungs with fresh air, I have been walking at the beach. Following the sidewalk along the sand on these winter days that feel like Spring, I thrill at the chorus of languages from the chatting couples and families I pass. Spanish, Greek, Urdu, Hindi, Portuguese, Chinese. These are my neighbors and a reason why 20 years ago, my husband and I, fresh from our life overseas, fell in love with this city on the Connecticut coast.
And this beach. Today I walked by the playground and for a moment, I remember myself spending hours on that bench watching little Molly slide down the fireman pole, climb up ladders, slip down slides. And my heart aches with the memory and I wish I could go back in time and be who I am now, watching my beautiful girl at play, completely attuned to joy, absolutely at peace. Instead, all those years ago, for too many seasons, I was lost in a cloud of worry, anger, hurt and terror.
My husband would be home sleeping – no matter the hour. Instead of sitting beside me watching our daughter, catching up on the week, planning our next meal – even just quarreling about things I imagine normal families do, he would still be sprawled across our bed in a drug induced sleep. Often, he would not wake until dinner, ignoring my tears, my pleas and harassment, stuck in the web of addiction that would eventually kill him. On those days at the beach, ever hopeful for the miracle that never came, I watched the cars enter the beach, hoping with some kind of magical thinking, that I might conjure him driving in next. There he would be – the man I’d married, waving and calling out the window, so happy to join us. Instead, Molly and I eventually returned home, the pit in my stomach deeper than ever and Molly not bothering to ask where Daddy was as he still slept upstairs.
Enough time has passed that I mostly remember the things I loved about Neil, a remarkable, beautiful, tortured man. But sometimes dark memories are ignited – like today on a beautiful day as I pass a bench in front of the playground.
9 thoughts on “Days at the Beach”
You render that sense of the unexpected revival of memory so well. Lovely piece
Addiction has brought down so many with so much to offer.
That’s for sure. Throw a rock and you’ll hit someone impacted. Wait – maybe that’s not a good idea…
It’s amazing, isn’t it, how even a beautiful, glorious, peaceful moment, suffused with contentment can trigger memories both poignant and heart-rending. What a life you’ve had….XXOO
Beautiful. The part about wanting to go back in time and enjoy your daughter through present wisdom and peace, so perfect.
I so appreciate when you share these memories, Tricia. I know they are difficult to relive but the force of your feeling pushes through the page and I feel like I am sitting across from you, listening closely as you plumb the depths of your experience. It lends an immediacy and a authenticity to your words that vibrates in my heart. Thank you.
Such a beautiful post, Tricia. It’s like the words have the rhythm of your walk–the fresh air of the beginning, the memories of the playground with the drop back in time, and then I can see you spinning back towards home with that last paragraph. And this passage struck me as the heart of the piece: “And my heart aches with the memory and I wish I could go back in time and be who I am now, watching my beautiful girl at play, completely attuned to joy, absolutely at peace. Instead, all those years ago, for too many seasons, I was lost in a cloud of worry, anger, hurt and terror.”
You always write such beautiful, thoughtful comments. I am grateful to have you as a reader. x
Cynthia – Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I feel so lucky to have such fine readers. A reason to continue! xxx