Sundown at Moonlight

AA photo 4 photo 4 (96) photo 1 AAA  I don't remember the last time I spent every day of the week at the beach. I must have been in high school because that's what we'd do then. We'd wake up and ask for a ride to the beach. Or we'd walk, if we were at my friend, Meredith's house. Her backyard had a treehouse with a view of the beach, the kind of thing kids dream about unless it's a part of their reality. It was part of mine and only now do I truly appreciate what that means. Mere's dad built the house himself and we spent our summers in sleeping bags beneath the stained glass and its collage of stars. Sometimes we'd sleep, but that was only after we'd exhausted all conversation. And in the morning we'd wrap our towels (still damp from the day before) around our waists and climb down the winding wooden stairs toward the new day.

There is no place like home when you grow up in a treehouse, overlooking the beach where every ghost begs to be buried alive.

We're the same girls when we get together except now our bellies are swollen and our suits offer more coverage.

I've had a hard time these last few weeks since we've been back. I thought I would feel relieved with the kids back to school but I feel lost. The twins are off for a month and my mom came up to help last week because I was panicked and desperate for some help. (Three periods in five weeks is my body's way of telling me I've taken on too much which I have a tendency to do until I'm literally bleeding out. I finally called the doctor so there's that. I should have called weeks ago so there's that, too.)

The "I got this, no problem" laid back beach Bec has peeled away from the shoreline and can now be found under a table, head in her hands, because "got this, no problem" isn't the truth--not right now, anyway.

It's no wonder that the treehouse sounds pretty nice right about now. 
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Moonlight Beach was ground zero for all of the things that used to break my heart. Now it's just this place that happened once. That beckons and whispers and feels like home in a way it probably shouldn't. And all of these thoughts race through my head as I watch my children... the clash of where I am now in this moment and where I was then in this place. Something I'm sure I've written about 7897918 times before, but there you have it. I feel like I'm still a kid when I come home. I feel like I'm wandering into the place I used to belong hoping that it will reclaim me. Not just Moonlight but all of the beaches here.
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The kids don't know any of those stories. They don't know what I used to do here. They don't know that I used to be someone else here. And I was. I was all of the things I want to keep them away from. I was all the things I want to revisit every day of my life.

I don't want to leave.

Even though it's dark.

Even though I'm holding a dirty diaper in my hand.
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If I squint I can make out my feet as they looked then... tan with toe rings, anklets and the like... 

I used to go where the crowd was sure to gather. Now I find myself turning away as soon as I spot the umbrellas. Too many people... too many places to get lost.

It's a beautiful life, this, and I have never been happier to be where I am at the age that I am with the people I am with. But the familiarity of old friends in an old town, sandwiched between the same sand and sky, takes me back to the days when fake IDs were all we needed to feel like adults.

And coming home is all we need to feel like kids again. (Even when we know the feeling isn't mutual.)

"When I was your age," they used to tell us with cautionary tales and we all rolled our eyes because everything was the worst. And it was, somehow. We had to find fault in our sandcastles in order to prepare for their inevitable disappearance.

We knew, even then, that in time, those summers would be washed away clean.
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And suddenly I am meeting my former self in the middle, trying desperately to catch up.

As they call for me. 

And chase the waves. 

And watch the sun disappear. Without knowing what secrets I have kept. What secrets I am keeping. 
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"What are you thinking about?" my mom asks. 

"Nothing much," I say. 

"Watch this, Mom," Fable says. 

I'm watching.
It's a pain not unlike an itch... A part of me marvels at the collage of then and now... of my children's shadows bumping against my own. But there's also the part that isn't ready for all of this. Like, in my head, I'm sixteen again, except I have to round up four children and pack them into a minivan now because it's dark outside. It's dark and it's cold and I need to put this dirty diaper in a trash can but I don't know where the trash cans are. They used to be right here but now they've moved.

Three weeks later and I'm still trying to find one.
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