The laughter melds into the breaking of the waves, the call of the gulls.
It intertwines with the rush of the breeze and the smell of salt in the air.
It is the tonic of summer, and I want to drink it in.
Then I see her, sitting casually in a beach chair, feet in the cooling afternoon sand.
Her hair dances with the wind as she gazes, unconcernedly, at the fiery orange of the setting sun.
She is the picture of relaxation.
She is my dream of summer.
The one I hold on to through all the paperwork, lesson planning, grading, advising, worrying, and mothering.
But now it’s several weeks into summer, and I have yet to greet her.
Which, I imagine, seems strange.
So what’s the hold up? What’s standing in my way of carefree afternoons and picturesque sunsets?
As every additional year of teaching draws to a close, I wait with bated breath for the feeling of release, the easing of a burden.
And every year, I find the first few weeks of summer packed to the brim with appointments and responsibilities. Broken things needing to be fixed. Affairs to be handled. Illnesses that descend the minute schedules open up.
And the weight is tremendous.
It’s as though everything crashes down at once, and I find myself racing around, wondering where that carefree woman went, and why I’m fighting nausea in a rapidly-warming house.
And it’s exhausting.
The other day, my husband and I looked at one another, and weariness looked back at both of us.
Sure, life is difficult, but run-you-into-the-ground difficult? Shouldn’t there be some breathing room? Some escape?
The leaking A/C says no.
The infection screams no.
The car repair whispers no.
The finances chorus no.
An off-key chorus drowning out summer’s serenade.
And it can’t be ignored.
So, with a deep breath, we book the appointments, and start working through the chaos, one strand at a time.
Hoping for quiet.
Praying for peace.
Realizing that these are elusive and unstable, often hidden behind the louder elements of life.
So when we find them, as we have this afternoon, we must let them wash over us, drowning out the chaos, if only briefly.
The noise will return.
But in this moment, there’s only the rush of the breeze through the palm fronds, the smell of rain in the air, and a periwinkle sky.
Sure, it may not be my dream of summer. But it’s a beautiful view from my much cooler living room.
And right now, it’s just the escape I need.