I’ve been working late every night this week, and it’s the second week of August. By the time I got home it was 6:45. I’d promised my daughter a trip to Nantasket Beach tonight.

She probably would have been happier if we’d ordered a pizza and watched back to back episodes of Law and Order.

It was 7 pm when we loaded the car with a couple towels, clean underwear, and a gym bag with shampoo and swim goggles. Katy had a bottle of water. I was sipping on a cup of coffee I found on the kitchen table left over from this morning.

It was hot today, but it’s already the middle of August. By the time we got to the beach, it was 7:30. There was still sunlight, but a storm just left and another one’s coming in tomorrow. The water was cold.

I’m from New Jersey. It took me 5 years before I’d  put my head in the water when we visited the Cape. Ten years before I’d even consider swimming in the waves, even on the bay side. It’s only been in the past few years that if I’m at the beach, and there’s not snow on the ground, or snow expected, I swim.

Katy went out with me. She danced around in the water. She scolded me. She laughed at me.images

She told me stories about camp and some cooking channel on youtube and showed off some design on her fingernails.

And then Katy told me she’d had enough.  She smiled sweetly, swam back to the shore, dried off and repainted her toenails.

I threw my body into the water, it was pretty damn cold, and I swam. I swam hard and fast. I could feel my muscles pull, my shoulders lift and my palms reach and stretch. I swam hard.

It felt good. The waves were soft, they’d lift me up and swing me, while I swam, and let me down. I never lost rhythm.

It’s taken me years and years and years to figure out that even though the water is cold, if I stay in long enough, and move fast enough, I get used to it. And it feels good.

The water, the swim, my hands, my toes, my heart, the sand, it all feels good, if I give it time.

This is something i started to learn later in life. I can get used to anything.

In the summer, in the water, this has served me well.

While I swam tonight, I wondered. What else have I gotten used to?

I’ve been inside this life a long time, I made hard choices and what felt like some bad decisions.

I think everything’s turned out all right.

But maybe I just got comfortable in my surroundings.

I look at Katy on the shore. She’s hard to spot. I don’t have my contacts on, and I swam far away, and even farther back to find her.

I fall out of the water when I’m sure it’s her.

She waits for me. She wraps me in a towel. She helps me find the keys and tells me that coming to Nantasket was a fantastic idea. Even if the water was too cold and my phone is almost out of power and what are we going to do about dinner.

But, Mom, truly, really, really glad you made me come with you.

I’ll never get used to my daughter telling me my ideas are fantastic.

If I’m gotten used to other things, if I’ve grown complacent and there is room for improvement in my life, I am capable of making whatever changes I need to make.

I swam three quarters of a mile in 65 degree water, tide coming in, and my daughter thinks I’m smart. Or at least capable of a good idea.

There’s still hope.


MY Job At Quincy College

August 15, 2015

It’s been a Long Week in my life.

Hours at work have been intense, I work for Quincy College and a large part of my job is working to help potential students become students.

This involves many conversations, involving almost every single candidate. There are conversations with the student, some parents chime in. I have Financial Aid on speed dial – “He hasn’t turned in his Financial Aid information form? Really?”

Admissions- “Are you sure you haven’t gotten her transcript? Can I put her thru to you?” Followed closely by the Registrar’s Office, the Business Office, the Deans, the Advisors-  at the end of the week, I’ve talked a lot.

Occasionally I sit down with someone and they tell me about what their plans are, about which classes they’ll be taking, even about what they want to be when they grow up.

When a student leans forward, and starts to talk to me, I lean back and listen.

I don’t answer the phone. I ignore my son’s texts. I stop wondering what they will be serving upstairs for Karen’s Birthday or Michael’s going away.

I need this time with these people- kids, baby boomers, grandparents, unwed mothers, recovering addicts, struggling sons, international students from Nepal, Bulgaria, France, Haiti.

I need time with the people that come to me for help, I need to hear their stories so that I can remember why helping them is the best job I’ve ever had.

It’s the Sunday night after vacation. The suitcases are empty, but I cant find the toothpaste. My daughter is almost ready for camp tomorrow but she is missing a favorite swim suit. Or is it a shoe?

Katy told me twenty minutes ago. She hasn’t noticed that since she turned nine I started tuning about her frantic announcements in regards to items of clothing and footwear. She has lots and lots and lots of everything. We are the recipients of hand-me-downs from four different families.

So if something is missing, it’s probably lost under a pile of stuff that certainly contains either the missing item or a replacement.

I’m going thru the motions of getting ready to return to work, but I’m weighted down with the- I’m not ready for the real world how did the week go by so fast and I don’t think I even got a tan Blues.

We just got home from Cape Cod. We make the trip every year with a family friend and his daughter.

The first few days are always slow. Long days at the pool, with brief trips across the street to the ocean during low tide. The girls looked for crabs. I pretended that swimming back and forth in the bay was exercise. Then I started looking for crabs too.

The girls ordered milkshakes for lunch and a half an hour later, chicken nuggets. We played Marco Polo even though there a lot of other people in the pool, ages ranging from 2 years old to 82 with no interest at all in playing Marco Polo.

We went to town and wandered down Commercial Street until a restaurant looked good.

We had all the time in the world then, only two days in. Sleeping in was a luxury we could afford, and we agreed to decide about whale watches and bike trips and boogie boarding tomorrow or the day after.

Then comes the day after, and while I sipped my first cup of coffee, negotiations began over bike trails or boat rides. We made dinner reservations after doing research. We planned naps, lunches and had a long conversation about whether or not we’d need to buy more sun block before the end of the week. Both of us seemed aware that we were now in the middle of the week and that our decisions carried weight.

When I said no to the whale watch, I had to recognize that this year, unless something really really strange happened and a whale decided to stop by MacMillan Pier in downtown Provincetown, I’m not going to see any whales. Up close, anyway. I thought about it for a while and it was a decision I could live with. (Sorry, James.)

By Thursday and Friday, we’d settled into a breakfast ritual. The girls knew each others card games. I remembered to hang the towels up where they belong and James remembered that I liked to watch Jon Stewart reruns before sleep. We had become a temporary family that is well aware it’s almost time to say goodbye.

Thursday morning, the girls went boogie boarding, I sat on the sand and watched. They didn’t complain about the wind. I didn’t mind just watching them, wobble, and fall, ride along on their bellies, climb back up, tip one over, crouch like surfers and stand straight like super models. I don’t usually watch. But I took one look at the long, heavy board, and at the wind on the waves and I laid down a towel.

On the last night, we went to our first drag show and were entertained by a beautiful cast of characters played by the one and only Electra. (I am now the proud owner of a tote bag, signed by Electra herself.)

James let my daughter pick out our last restaurant for dinner, where we ordered top shelf liquor and appetizers so fresh they weren’t even listed on the menu.  The girls got two more tattoos. We stopped by our favorite tee shirt shops and I was introduced to a few gallery owners.

We took a pedi cab back to the car.

Right now, I feel decades away pedi cabs and whales and mudslides and sunblock. My daughter is mad at me because I didn’t help her find whatever it was she was looking for. I’m going back to work tomorrow at 8 am and I’d really like a day off to go thru my vacation photos.

By 9:15 tomorrow morning, it will be like I never went on vacation at all.

Life is short. I get that. I gave up smoking and I’m working on carbohydrates and considering giving up sugar and I do like yoga. I’m happy and willing to make changes in my life so that I will live a little bit longer.

Life is short, but it’s long enough to give us time to get used to the fact that it’s going to end. It’s also long enough that I think sometimes it gets boring, or horrible things happen, or quite often, you don’t even get a warning before check-out.

I’m going to have to call in sick tomorrow. I’ve got some pictures to put on the cloud and some Facebook friends to make.(I hope they remember me as more than a tourist? I hope they are the kind of people that want to have many, many Facebook friends, even if they are tourists.)

Maybe next year I need to go on a spectacularly bad vacation. Or take two weeks off. Or just enjoy long weekends spread out all year long.

Maybe what I need to do is re read the words I just wrote and think them thru for a moment.

I just got home from a beautiful vacation with some of my favorite people.

Life is short, vacations are shorter.

In light of that indisputable fact, I guess I’ll continue to take notes along the way.