“By the Sea…”

August 12, 2009

WomanOnTheSandHi, it’s Linda here again… and this week’s story is a bit nostalgic… a sweet taste, savored long ago, that still lingers…. stirring up memories of love that once was….and, somewhere, still is…..

There is a time for everything in life…. a time when we fall in love, we get married, we have a child…

Sometimes that beautiful story continues. Often, there are bumps along the way and life takes a turn that we don’t expect. It can be challenging to leave behind what once was… and, yet, there is no future in life until we let go of the past, the beautiful times as well as the tough times….

Only when our space is “clean” can there be room for something new…

Here’s a story about letting go of one of those beautiful times… and how we can do that with love….

Years ago, just before I married my husband, Fred, we had the opportunity to rent – and then buy – a house on the beach in Westhampton, New York. One of Fred’s colleagues had just taken a job in Ohio and was not going to be able to use the house that he had rented — with an option to buy, no less. He called Fred and said, “Go out there and take a look at it… If you like it, I’ll turn over the lease to you…”

The next Saturday – a cold, clear day in February, 1976 – we traveled out to the Hamptons to take a look. The long drive ended with a desolate stretch along Dune Road, passing boarded up cottages and empty driveways — to arrive at a burgundy cottage, high up on pilings, boarded up like all the others, with a rickety staircase climbing up to the front door and a high dune on the ocean-side that prevented us from seeing what lay beyond…

Like kids, we jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs, trying to peek inside – to no avail. It was a worn house, small – but the air was crisp and the sky was blue – and we whispered about how good it would be to spend the summer at the beach…

And, if we liked it? Well, it was a very inexpensive house – as all of them were then… and we could afford it if we didn’t buy an apartment in the city…. we had such freedom to choose!

When we couldn’t see inside from the front door – or even crack the board on a window a bit… we decided that we’d go under the house and climb the dune and see what the ocean looked like from there…

We scrambled up the back of the high dune – it must have been 15 feet! – and pulled each other up to the top to see a back porch that was also old and weathered…. and then we turned around….

It was beautiful… breath-taking, really… the ocean stretched out before us in an endless expanse of sea and sky… the waves rolled in a rhythmic pattern from left to right, curling foam to crash upon the white sand.…

We looked at each other and we knew this was it…. this was our house…. we hugged and we kissed and we loved and we gave everything in our hearts to each other and to this house…..

When we got home, Fred called his friend – “Yes, we’ll take it….”

We got married in May and moved into our beach house for Memorial Day weekend…. It was old and worn inside, but we didn’t care… it was warm and it was cozy and it was ours….

It would be impossible in this little story for me to tell you everything that happened in that house… the wonderful times with friends, the beautiful sun-filled weekends, the runs along the beach with the sea breeze moving us along and lobster roasts in the sand…. How we spent every weekend there from May to October every year, loving every moment of it…. so that, even in the cold of winter, when we never went out there, it lived for us in the background of our minds — as the love nest that it truly was….

When we lost our first baby in May, 1978, that summer at the beach house was a time and a place of mourning that turned into a haven of healing and love for both of us…

When Josh was born the following year, we brought him home — after 8 weeks in the hospital and a scary time when it was all about transfusions and intensive care for him — and intensive care followed by my mother’s death for her – we headed out to the beach house, in the middle of October, even though the season was over and the road was quiet and the town was empty — and we slept in our room, with Joshua in his Moses-basket by our bed….

We were at peace there…

As I look back on it now, it strikes me as odd – and strangely synchronistic: how our lives together — and what happened to the beach house — seemed to mirror each other…

Fred and I drifted into a troubled and confusing time… and the beach house suffered from winter Northeasters that left it standing precariously on three less pilings… and listing dangerously to one side – not unlike how our marriage was standing…. scary to look at, dangerous to enter, and doomed to fall into the ocean if we couldn’t fix it….

Try as we did, both the house and the marriage collapsed…. a series of winter storms in 1993 finally took the house out to sea…. the same winter that Fred and I no longer had anything left to stand on either…

After the last storm, we went out to look at where the house once stood. The road – what there was of it — was blocked, the rest of the area was flooded so that the only way out to where the house used to be was by barge — a big one with wheels that rolled into — and then floated on — the ocean… I couldn’t look… it was too painful to see it all gone…

We left the beach that day and didn’t go back… There were community groups and lawsuits to work on rebuilding the beach – and the meetings and the legal trials, once again, were much like the discord that now existed between Fred and me…

It was hard to remember how we were together before… as it was hard to remember how beautiful it had been in our house at the beach….

Over several years… and little by little, the beach was restored – lawsuits won by the community, a new town created, Westhampton Dunes, and an agreement by the government to manage the beach over the next 30 years to keep it from drifting away again…

In those same years, Fred and I mended our own hearts and – even though we chose different lives – what emerged was the foundation of real love and affection that always lay under the surface of our problems – those problems that were really defenses — against what? We don’t remember now…

Years later, when the beach was beautiful again, I went out to look at our land…. it had sat barren and empty for a long time. The lawsuits won, the area was going through a building boom and there was our beach in the midst of framed-out houses and newly planted dunes…

Waiting for a new life….

Neither Fred nor I could let it go….

Shortly after that, a developer called and made a nice offer for the land. Fred and I had been separated for years – we knew that we would never build on that land again. AND… knowing that it was in the background… that it was there… spoke of something unfinished….

Something incomplete….

It was time to let go…

We took the offer…

The week before we closed, I went out to the beach by myself… I brought a notebook and a pen and a folding chair. I opened the chair and sat there all afternoon, writing in my book – anything that I could remember about everything that ever happened in that house.

One memory was emblazoned on my heart…

The spring after Joshua was born, we opened the house early and started bringing him out there every weekend. One night, I was holding him in my arms, rocking him to sleep in an antique rocker that we had in our bedroom….

Our house was a strange shape… the master bedroom jutted out onto the back deck, facing the ocean – and the main house was at a right angle to the bedroom doors that opened onto the deck…. Sitting in the rocking chair, holding my baby – I could see both the ocean – and — if I looked a little to the right – I could see across the deck, into the living room where Fred was sitting, reading his book.

It was a perfect moment.

I felt a love wash over me that I had never felt before…. there was nothing there BUT love… I looked down at Joshua, his little eyelashes fluttering on his soft, sweet cheeks and my heart filled up and overflowed… I lifted my head and saw Fred and was overwhelmed with love for him – I turned towards the ocean and watched those beautiful waves rolling in curls onto the sand and the moonlight glistening on the ocean…. and all I could think was, “This is it… This is bliss… Thank you, God… You have blessed me…. I have everything I could ever want in my life…. I am so grateful…..” and the tears rolled down my face – I was that happy…..

And… that was a long time ago…

As I sat in the folding chair and looked at my little plot of beach – that same beach that was the place of my fondest memory and my deepest love…. I knew that what I wanted for whomever would live there was exactly that….

Love.

I took a stick and made the Reiki symbol for “love” in the sand. I climbed up the dune, one last time. Standing there, facing the sea — with the sharp, salty breeze brushing against my face and blowing my hair back — I blessed the sky, I blessed the beach, I blessed the ocean…

I said good-bye…

I packed up my folding chair, my notebook, and my bag… I turned and left…

I have a new life now, a different life…. A life I love… and, I am blessed that I had that life… once, a long time ago….

As for Fred and me? Well, real love never dies…. it changes, it looks different… but it is always love… We are friends now and that is a gift….

Deliciously yours in the Beauty of it all, Linda

“A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven”

…”Turn, Turn, Turn”, The Bryds

LindaOnFrontDeckTrimmedThis is me, on the front deck of our beach house on Dune Road in Westhampton, in the summer of 1983. It was a beautiful time — for Fred and Josh and for me, for our two other children from Fred’s first marriage, Brian and Cindy, for our house, for our friends who came to visit….. With love, always…. xoxo

 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

chocolatebowtrufflejpeg1

I’ve been looking at the things I’d like to transform in my life: those habits I have that may not serve me anymore — if  ever they did! — those ways of being that are not responsible and/or caring – challenging myself to question everything that might be a distraction from my purpose in life – and that purpose is making a difference while I am here on this planet….

 

One area that came up for me is this…

 

I am a night owl – I LOVE the late night, the hours way after dark, long after everyone else has gone to bed,  the quiet, dark streets of the city; stars in a clear, night sky;  moonlight on the ocean;  late night reading, late night television, late night EVERYTHING!  Sweet….

 

That’s not the problem…. 

 

What late-night living gives rise to is that I am NOT a morning person:  I love to sleep late, I prefer not to talk before 10AM  (Surprise! There IS a time when I don’t talk!) – I don’t even turn my phone on until after I’ve had enough time to meditate, set my intentions for the day, and have my coffee…

 

Still not the problem…

 

AND…  I live in a culture where “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,”  “the early bird gets the worm,” and  “The early morning has gold in its mouth” – two out of three of those quotes by Ben Franklin, no doubt a lover of the dawn.

 

You can see the conflict that sets up for me… because I’ve bought into that…. and yet I don’t do it.

 

And THAT, my friends, is the problem.

 

Not that I haven’t tried – putting an alarm clock across the room to force me out of bed, promising myself to go to the gym in the morning so that I have a schedule to live into, clearing my evenings so that I could go to bed at 10PM and awaken at 6AM….

 

All because I thought I “should”…

 

…only to be startlingly awakened at the dawn’s early light by the blaring of the alarm and immediately thinking that something was wrong, feeling like a lump in a lazy and lethargic work-out, and botching my schedule up every other day because I have so many late evening dinners and seminars that end at 10:15PM that I am disempowered before I even begin.   My brain gets the message that I cannot be trusted with my Word.

 

This week, I decided that it was time to get that flat, once and for all!  No one can be happy if they are living in marked contrast to what they think they SHOULD be doing….  And thinking of themselves as “less than” in the process… 

 

So, I looked at that…

 

Every morning before I start my day – and every night before I close my eyes – I ask God to use me….  I, like George Bernard Shaw, “want to be all used up when I die…”  AND get my 8 hours sleep while I’m at it…

 

What does that mean for my life?

 

Here’s what I came up with:

 

…Living, playing, and expressing myself in being Who I Am for myself and for the world, right here, right now… present in every moment….

 

…Living in my devotion to God by being an emissary for love and compassion…  in every moment….

 

…Living as a contribution to my fellow human beings, standing for their Greatness, even when they don’t….  and doing that…. you got it! –  in every moment….

 

Then, I looked at whether that is better done in the morning or in the evening…?    Or — what IS the appropriate and right time of day for that — exactly?

 

Every moment.

 

What I realized is that God doesn’t know whether it’s the morning or the night… Well, He does, actually, know that because He knows everything… He just doesn’t really care about that…  what He cares about is that we love each other, that we are compassionate with each other, that we contribute to each other….  In fact, that is what God is…. Love, kindness, and compassion…

 

I’ve made my peace with this.  I can choose:  I can be a night person or I can wake up early… it means what I make it mean….  and I’ve chosen to make it mean nothing, either way…   It’s all just a conversation… and we get to choose….. that’s what allows us to be free….

 

So, if you are a morning person, and the early hours are what call to you…and that is what honors your Higher Self…. Enjoy every precious moment of that!  AND please — tiptoe ‘til after breakfast if you’re staying with me, OK?

 

For me..?  Well, here I sit, at 11:30 at night, alive and aware and loving all of you, right now, writing my little heart out….  glancing out my window at the twinkling street lights on First Avenue and watching the snow falling on the silent city night, moved by what it takes for all of us to live while loving and laughing and being together…. And I look forward to those few times a year when I get to see the dawn, made all the more special and beautiful by its rare appearance in my life….

 

If you’re ever up late, perhaps you’ll see me….   I’ll be the one dancing by the light of the moon….

  

Deliciously yours in the moonlight….  Linda 

 

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you. 

 

%d bloggers like this: