Foggy Morning: Ruminations & Photographs

I spent Thursday morning at the Goleta Slough last week,
and I spoke into my phone as I sat there.
This is the transcript of that speaking. (Pretty much!)
I’m thinking this was an artist’s playdate of sorts. . . 

Cormorants, beautiful black and sleek, yet they wreak such havoc.
The trees above these birds are sticks now.
Ashen, dead.

I sit, staring.
The tide ebbs and flows, the horizon fades away.
An occasional gull, tern, cormorant, or duck flies by.
I can hear the chatter of children far down the beach.

And the, low  guttural tones of the men who drive these weary motorhomes.
What must it be like to live like this, day after day?
Chatting in the parking lot, slugging back a six pack.
Suddenly a dolphin surfaces very close by.
Oh, have I ever told you how these creatures speak to me of God?
I see he has a companion.
Somehow life is better with a swimming partner.

Summer must truly be here, a lifeguard walks by,
carrying his bright orange rescue pad.

Summer in Santa Barbara is often gray,
as the heat from the central valley of California rises,
it sucks the fog up to the beach along the central coast.
But today, instead of feeling suffocating, this cool, moist blanket is soothing.

My husband is flying to Chicago, once again attending meetings.
He gets so nervous before he travels, and so do I.
Neither one of us likes to travel alone anymore;
I’m not sure we ever did.
We have surely done it often enough,
and once we arrive at our destination, most worries dissipate.
But travel days are hard — and the days leading up to travel days.

47 years is a very long time.
We’ve had adventures, raised children, cared for grandchildren,
moved several times, each dealt with the stresses of our own individual careers.
And we’ve done all of it together, growing up together,
growing into marriage together.
So separation is both good and hard.
It’s good for us to remember that we are separate.
Each of us is an individual, with different gifts and interests,
and those gifts and interests need nourishment,
encouragement, outlet.

Yes, we still need
to do those things which nurture us as people as well as a couple.
But the other reality is this one: everything else in life is better together.

I just saw a plane take off in my rearview mirror, perhaps it was his.
He flies first to San Francisco, then on to Chicago.
Meetings all day tomorrow, half a day Saturday, then home again Saturday night.

I look forward to his return, but I also look forward to some space and time alone.
Taking an hour to sit and stare at the ocean is something
I find more difficult to do when I know my husband is at home.
Why is that, I wonder?

I think I still carry a lot of baggage from my early life.
I still hear the voice of my mother in my head,
the one reminding me to be ever present and careful,
to look out always for my husband’s interests above my own.

I have come around intellectually and on some emotional level to the belief that
each of our interests and gifts are important,
that decisions are made mutually,
that God’s call is unique to each one of us
as well as unique to our marriage relationship.

But I still hear my mother’s anxious questions.
“Does Dick think this is okay?”
“Are you keeping your husband happy?”
And I still remember, clear as a bell,
her words about one of her very best friends,
after her husband betrayed her with a member of his congregation
and left their marriage.
I still remember these words:
“If only she had taken better care of herself.
If only she weren’t so smart.
If only she had kept all that intelligence in check.”

It makes me physically sick to write those words.
Yet this is what my mother believed, and this is what she raised me to believe.
How sad is that?

The cars are starting to pull into the lot now –
it’s a summer day at the beach.
People will be here in droves.

My clue that time is up.
What will this day bring next?

It brought a lot of loveliness and a fair amount of pain, actually. Leisurely shopping for the first time in ages; lunch out, every bite delicious, while reading a favorite author on my Kindle; time at the beach at the other end of town as the sun was setting. Unfortunately, on my walk there, my ‘bad’ knee acted up fiercely, requiring a trip to urgent care the next day. Three x-rays and 1 shot of cortisone later, I am much better. Undoubtedly, this relaxing day helped to move that recovery along.

Joining this with Laura, Michelle, Jen and Ann:

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  1. Love this conversation and the photos Diana. We have those naughty cormorants on an island in our beautiful lake in Canada. They have stripped the trees bare and are so noisy. You live in a beautiful place. I can relate to the travel and all things better together. H is away in San Diego and Los Angeles with Murielle looking at universities in between work duties. They are having so much fun but I miss them. It’s quiet here.

    • OOOH, send them north to Santa Barbara to look at WEstmont and UCSB – both fine schools in spectacular settings. :>) How soon do you get to return to your cottage? We head to Kauai early in July and I so look forward to that time.

  2. Beautiful photos to accompany your amazing thoughts. Oh, I am so glad that it is not my job to keep my husband happy. (Hearing my friend Gene’s voice … “Everyone is responsible for their own happiness.”

    Glad you got some time at the ocean and that your knee is on the mend.


    ps. I posted pictured of the wedding today … you’ve been asking. 🙂

  3. I felt I was right beside you in this conversation Diana. Thanks for the invitation! Jacci

  4. I appreciate your sharing this.

  5. Beautiful photos – simply beautiful! I understand the silver lining my husband traveling – we don’t like to be a part but when he does travel – there’s a quietness, a different list of things to do, I clean house differently, meander about a bit, dig deep into myself – and I understand about your mother’s words. My grandmother who raised me admonished me to fix my husband breakfast every morning, “Or he’d leave me.” How wonderful to be in a side-by-side marriage that encourages each to soar instead of being shackled in fear that the slightest mistake will cause one to walk away! I think we are each blessed in our spouses (We’re celebrating 30 years this year:) Thank you for sharing your quiet time!

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting. There is a different rhythm when we’re alone, isn’t there? Not a better one, just different. And yes, I think my mom lived her entire life in fear that she was never good enough. I see it over and over in her various paranoias as she struggles through dementia in her 90s.

  6. A perfect playdate, Diana. Thank you for taking me with you. All these deep places stirred by a long quiet sit. As hard as it can be, isn’t it a lifegiving thing to contemplate these roots? I know it helps me accept the way things are with much more grace. Thanks for sharing this beauty, my friend.

    • Oh, Laura, you are so welcome – you are one of my very favorite playdate companions, you know? Yes, it is good to contemplate where we’ve come from and to try and accept where we are now with a little forgiveness and understanding.

  7. Your thought-provoking post has me wondering: How did you achieve a partnership marriage, when you were being advised to uphold the old subservience model? I’m also wondering what we can do to bless the marriages of our children and even our grandchildren. Number one would be to model a loving, partnership ourselves, of course. Number two would be to keep advice to a minimum. preferably only when asked for. But when it is appropriate, I don’t want to be one of those mothers/grandmothers giving less-than-helpful advice! I’d be interested in your thoughts, Diana.

    • You know, I’ve had a couple of nudges to write more about this whole topic so I will probably begin exploring that – maybe in this memoir writing course I’m taking this month. . . stay tuned. Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting, Nancy. I appreciate it.

  8. Suzi Pilarski says

    I loved this post! The things you said made me feel not alone as I retrain my mind on just some of these same things, thank you. It makes me feel sane! 🙂