And when I was driving over on Friday, it was one of those perfect days and the sun was shining off the water just right and I turned on Oyster Radio and caught a Buffett song and the bridge came into view and I was beside myself with a sort of joy to be alone, to be driving on this particular road on that particular time, to sing with the radio, to have the anticipation of a few days on the island where I spent three summers with Lily and Jessie when they were very young, such simple days filled with sun and with sand and with water and with dolphins and with books and with sleep and with night skies filled with stars and the blur of the Milky Way.
Karen and I took two separate cars because she is staying until tomorrow and we stopped together in Panacea for lunch and her sister, who was driving from Ocala, stopped too, and I got to meet her there in the restaurant and I thought to myself and then I said out loud, "Oh dear. We three could get into some serious trouble."
Those girls went on and I stopped in Carabelle and bought shrimp and crab legs for us to eat and then drove through Eastpoint and went over that beautiful, magnificent bridge to the island and stopped at the Blue Store and the other grocery store too, just for good measure. I bought chips and beer and salsa and horseradish and tonic and limes and I don't know what all. Rice. Karen had mentioned that she would get things to make salad and other vegetables and so I knew that was covered. I found the house where we were staying and they were there already, opening the house, getting the air conditioning on, and I trundled my stuff up the stairs and nosed around, discovering the house, and checking out the back deck, the view, which is always the important part of a house on the water.
This house, being on the bay, had a view which reminded me so much of the view from our house on Dog Island but with a dock that stretched out approximately the length of a football field.
"Good Lord, that's a walk!" I said.
"And we've never fallen off!" she said.
"Knock wood it won't happen this time, either," I thought.
I have to stop here a moment to discuss Karen's dog, Coosa. I think that's how you spell it. She's the pup in the picture two or three posts down. Coosa is one of those dogs that give dogs a good name. If my dogs were like Coosa, I would not hate them. That is the simple truth. Coosa is friendly but not needy. She is obviously smart. She can be let free to go where she wants but she stays on the property. She looks at you when you talk and you know damn well she understands at least half of what you're saying. The only time I really heard her bark was last night when we were sitting on the dock watching the sunset and I thought maybe she had a coon up in the grass but when we walked back to the house, it appeared that she had found a small turtle and brought him to the dock for us to see. We returned the little thing to the ground and it was unharmed and we thanked Coosa for her gift.
I really, really liked Coosa.
Here's the funny thing- although Karen and I have known each other since high school, and although we were once fairly close and I was at one of her births and she at one of mine, she and her husband moved away a very long time ago and although we've stayed in touch a little and we do see each other maybe every other year or two, we have not been anything like you'd call close. But when her daughter died last May, Glen and I went up to Nashville for the service and I'm not sure what happened but some connection was made or remade between us and since then we've talked one the phone and she and her husband, who is also a very old friend of mine, came over a few times when they were visiting his dad who lives nearby.
And so when she asked me to join her and her sister at the beach, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Would we be comfortable with each other? I thought we would. I truly did, but I am so socially inept and so I was a little anxious.
But. There was absolutely nothing but sweetness and laughter and yes, tears, lots of those too, between us. We could say anything to each other. We discussed our kids, caught each other up on their lives, on our lives. We discussed marriage (she's been married thirty-seven years, and of course, Mr. Moon and I are about to celebrate 29 years) in ways that only long-married wives can discuss. And everything she told me was interesting to me and I simply enjoyed being in her presence without any hesitation or awkwardness in the least. It was...joyful!
It was like making a new friend whom I have known forever. And yes, I have. Known her forever.
At one point, as Karen and I were no doubt laughing like mean old crones at some foible of aging or perhaps, some shared perspective on grandkids or husbands, her sister looked up from the book she was reading and said, "Y'all are crazy."
Which made us laugh even more.
Karen gave me a great gift this weekend. Not just the gift of her friendship, but of something she has been learning, which is that we might as well laugh. Since her daughter died, she and her husband have been learning this lesson in a new and very real way. That hell yes, so much of life is tragic but that so much of it is funny and, god, let us just laugh about those things. Let us laugh.
Last night when I went down to the beach to walk, when I was just about to walk back across the road to the house, Karen and her sister met me with chairs and a beer and we went down to the beach and sat and watched the light as it faded. It was the magical time of day when the tilt of the earth brings all the magic to the light and sea and the sky and the sand all turned pastel.
I felt great from my walk and the distant witnessing of the wedding and from the little dip in the warm flat water I'd just taken. We sat and watched the light until the biting flies got bad and then we walked back across the street to the bay where we sat on the dock and watched the sunset.
And as a bonus, I got to meet and hang out with her beloved little sister whose life is a vast carnival of adventures and listen to their family stories. I felt that my life was enlarged through it all.
Before I went to sleep last night, I got a text from Lily with this picture.
My heart was so happy.
This morning we drank coffee and talk, talk, talked some more and then I slowly packed up and made my way home and now I am here. The chickens came to greet me and the dogs did too. I fed the chickens some of the not-good crackers and cleaned up some dog poop and pee (these dogs are NOT Coosa) and have unpacked some and I'm doing laundry and waiting for Mr. Moon to get home from hunting. I am glad to be here but I tell you- I am so glad I went away for this weekend which meant so very, very much to me. Karen says she's going to come and stay with me for a few days and that we'll sit on the porch and watch the chickens and I can't wait.
My heart feels a little fuller, my life too. And I want to, no I PLAN to, laugh more.
And cry more too, if that is called for.
Yes. It was a good weekend. The finest kind. I was invited to the beach and I didn't say no but said YES instead and got in my car and I drove to the beach and had a marvelous time and got the opportunity to fall in love with someone I've known forever.
I could not ask for more nor will I.