Many mornings I wake with thoughts of Maine, memories of my Nana and Grumps, and the longing for my childhood. I feel the memories catch somewhere in my throat with a desire so deep and wide that I know it can never be filled. Somethings are too wonderful to ever be replaced.
These feelings are no stranger to me. I've felt them many times, especially in the summers when I could no longer get away and visit my favorite place and people. The passing of my carefree childhood was replaced with school, work and eventually adulthood. I missed Maine! I missed my Nana and Grumps even when they were alive and thriving. Here at home in Indiana, I would walk by a pine tree, and the scent of it would carry me back to the summers I spent with them. Or, I would see a homemade swing, hanging from a thick tree branch and think of the one my Grumps made for me over 40 years ago.
Occasionally I will encounter a stranger whose "R's" will roll with that distinctive New England accent and I feel a comfort and connection all at once. And should I hear the chiming of cemetery church bells, counting out the passing of time, I recall the ones that surrounded my grandparents home on Barnard street in Kennebunk. When I heard those bells at night, or in the early mornings, I would count down the hours in my head to when I was allowed to get up and start my day. I loved that place and the people who lived there so much that I never wanted to sleep!
As a young girl, my friends at home were collecting fire flies in old jars and I was collecting snails and starfish in plastic beach pails. My friends would be traveling a few hours to camp for a weekend, and I was traveling days to cross the big bridge with the "Welcome to Maine" sign where I would stay for weeks! My friends would be sweating in the Midwest sunshine, and I would be braving the seaweed in water so cold that your teeth and body ached when you submerged yourself into it. My friends would be eating hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob, while I was consuming grinders, whoopie pies, lobster, steamers, blueberries, sea scallops and my Nana's terrible cooking! I don't know how many times my sister and I would secretly called up my Uncle Billy to come and eat the left over Mac-n-Cheese that clotted itself together in a big clumps shoved inside tuber ware. (However, Nana could make a mean spaghetti sauce, reserved for special occasions. It was an event that took her nearly all day).
Yes, it was the people there that I loved so much!
Yes, it was the place that I loved so much.
But now I understand it was the way that these people and this place made me feel so alive!
It was also that anticipation of being with the people and the place that I loved so dearly.
We never said good-bye, just until next time.
That empty pang that eventually finds us as adults, I feed that feeling with a trip to the sea! Even at a young age, I found walking along the waves made me feel as near to God that I believe I will ever feel this side of Heaven. It is the same reason why I never wanted to sleep when I was there. I wanted to be alive and soak up all the magic and possibility of the day. This is why I believe I love the beach, and it is why I'm always planning another road trip to it... the anticipation to something wonderful, and walking on any shore line makes me feel grounded. Each shell washed upon the shore, feels like a hand picked gift from my Maker, even the busted up and imperfect ones.
God shows himself in many ways, even in broken things.
Life was different thirty, forty years ago. I got up each morning and was set free to ride my bike all over my grandparent's hometown. There were no cell phones, no GPS tracking. However everyone knew who my grandparents were, and no doubt my own husband has exclaimed, "every single person in that town who knew Barb and Russel, knew I was their grand-daughter, Kary, visiting for the summer from Indiana". Equipped with a bike, a 110 camera, a library card and my very vivid imagination and I was off. Carefree, no worries, no sorrows... just the impending marching of time going forward that would count off our time together a million times faster. It is true, time does fly when you are having fun!
And fast... not just time, but everything so fast and pulsating. Running on a pair of skinny legs that would blow my hair out behind me catching the sand as I ran along the tide. At 47, it is the unrolling of Jeep windows, cranking the volume of the radio, singing loudly with my hand filtering the wind through my fingertips, over a four mile bridge, trying to hold on to all my Nana and Grumps showed me!
That little girl in search of adventure, and imagination ... it grounds me always in these mundane and uncertain days of my older life. I'm glad I got to meet myself at such a young age, so I can recall her especially now that I have gotten a little lost and well aged along the edges. The mid-west girl with the best grandparents ever that showed her the sea is the balm to this soul! In secret maybe the sea is what keeps them close to me... Until next time!