The Horizon, driftwood, and triathlon
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
We’re back at Seagrove Beach, Florida this week. It’s our 2nd trip to the beach this summer. You kids are having a blast with your cousins. I remember the times I spent with my cousins when I was kid in east Tennessee. Someday you’ll look back on trips like this one with nostalgia and realize how special moments with family are.
Yesterday I sat on the beach and stared at the horizon. Straight out across the gulf of Mexico. Across the Atlantic and the Caribbean somewhere beyond my eye’s reach. I got lost there for awhile. Just like I did when I was a younger man in my early 20’s and newly married to your mommy. I used to sit on North Beach on Seabrook Island, SC. Alone in the late afternoon or early morning. I imagined pursuing the edge of my view. Your mind quiets a little when you realize the vastness and the endless pursuit.
My daydream was interupted when you brought me a piece of driftwood, Izzy. You were puzzled by it’s texture and appearance. I explained what it was to you. You wanted to know why it was so smooth and soft, full of holes, with tiny shells lodged in impossible places. I did my best to make up an answer for you. I explained that somewhere far away it had fallen or been washed into the ocean. It drifted a long way, for a long time. 100 years maybe. Maybe a 1000. And over time the waves and the sand washed it smooth. The salt water absorbed into the wood, making it soft, filling it with tiny holes. Things attached themselves to it, burrowing deep inside, as it drifted from hemisphere to hemisphere, island to island, and beach to beach…until you found it on Seagrove Beach, FL in 2012. I told you that it might have been part of a pirate or a viking ship long ago. Or maybe a canoe all the way in Hawaii.
You seemed satisfied with the explanation, but not blown away by my slightly exagerated possibilities. You’re growing up. It’s harder for me to amaze you now.
Daydreaming on the horizon and explaining the driftwood both fit perfectly with where my mind has been the last few days. For some reason I had been thinking about how things begin. Your mommy and I have been traveling towards the horizon together for 14 years.
We used to sit on the floor in our tiny one bedroom studio apartment to eat dinner, because we didn’t have a table and chairs. We would go to the bookstore several times a week for hours back then. Just to browse and read parts of books and magazines. But we never bought anything. We didn’t have any money. When we left Tennessee for South Carolina we packed everything we owned into a Ford Mustang. Imagine that now. Everything. In a two door Ford Mustang. With two bicycles on the back.
We were so happy then. We didn’t know what was out there. And we weren’t burdened by it. That was the beginning of our marriage. Before the beach. Before Charleston. A long time before triathlon. And long time before you kids brought real purpose to our lives.
The years have carried us from place to place. Trouble and joy have both worn us into different people than we were in the beginning. We’ve drifted from shore to shore, but always towards the horizon.
Triathlon is that way too. That’s what keeps me interested. The unknown will some dady be realized. Someday I will finish an Ironman, feeling the pain and elation. And that will just be another part of the story. But right now, it’s a mystery just past where I can see.
I’ll be 38 next month. But when I’m at the beach I’m 24 again. Back at the beginning of my adult life. When Mommy and I were still finding out about each other. When I worked on the water everyday. Perpetually sunburned and salty. When I stared across the ocean and my mind drifted. And across the unknown anything seemed possible.
Last night we flew kites on the beach until well past dark. Izzy, you mostly stood at the waters edge looking farther than your eyes could see. You’re growing up to be a lot like your Mommy and Daddy.
We’re going to have a great week. Off to get us some hot beignets for breakfast!
Sat: Rode 35 miles before we drove to the beach
Sun: Ran 8 miles at the beach
Here you are with your cousins on the front porch of our beach. I had you pose looking directly into the sun. Oops.
Top step: Max, Kate, cousin Allen. Bottom Step: cousin Thomas, Izzy.