A BIRDS EYE VIEW
Sitting at Siesta Key Beach yesterday, for the past week and actually for the past thirty five years frankly is a birds eye view on humanity. Or at least the privileged view of humanity. I mean I am not talking of Aleppo, the plight of Rohingya refugees in Myanmar or the humanity of people helping others after disaster. I am talking about watching the tribal interaction of families going to the beach. I have been an observer of this since I have been writing which has probably been since I have been going to the beach.
Watching family dynamics on a beach during holiday is like eavesdropping on the most intimate of life. Family dynamics, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, sisters and sisters and brothers and grandmothers having their full circle of conversations revealed in front of total strangers knowing likely that all will be forgotten as quickly as it has been revealed. These conversations will not know they will end in a story written upon reflection as I fly home after a full week of witnessing them. My words have become my version of photographs of their day at the beach.
I relish the self appointed honor because the sounds of their voices, their intonations, the rise and fall of their pitch are all clues to their seeming highs and lows as they make their way through the maze of life we call relationship. The way a woman talks to her husband as she navigates her womanhood as a new mom with one on the way, barking orders like she is talking to a dolt. I want to get up and point out how belittling it is as her husband, patiently for now anyway, doesn’t take notice. He almost seems ambivalent to her patronizing tone. Is he already tired of it and ready to accept that this is simply his cross to bear as a husband and a new dad? She is likely unaware of this communication style as she is probably just regurgitating what her mother did as she carries on full conversations about “put more sunscreen on her,” “take her for a walk,” “your turn,” and the constant desire to get more food and water into the little girl. Smoothiiiieeeeee? More fruuuuuiiittttt? Cheeeeeeesse? Every word has an upturn that is slightly irritating especially knowing that she thinks she is being the best mom by feeding her little girl this seemingly healthy collection disguised as sugar. They seem like a happy young family, but I can almost forecast the problems that will be arising in the forms of resentments because they lack the skill set in how to talk to each other. These skill sets come way after and more often then not it is usually too late.
Then there are the young lovers, snuggling close on a towel as their sexuality is ripe and strong I can almost smell it. Watching sexual tension is an opportunity to reflect back to my earlier moments in my own young romantic phase of the beginning of relationship. The parts we women yearn for as time goes on and the acceptance phase kicks in as we try to hang on to that original feeling. The gracing of a hand over another, the draping of a leg over a waist, a connection of two sets of eyes lying face to face on a blanket wordless in voice, but screaming out what is to come later. The longing a woman feels when she watches this and then simultaneously shifting to the comfort of her own relationship’s present day comfort. Knowing that the sexuality is only the start and is not the definition and learning to accept this without feeling it as a loss.
There is the witnessing of an argument between a over tattooed masculine energied thirty something woman with her mother who has that resigned disposition of yet another disagreement between two generations who seldom understand each other. Watching this reminds me of my early days at the beach with my own mother and the less tumultuous times between us. But unlike us, they plod along realizing that they only have one of each other and they keep trying. Donning their swimsuits and their beach chairs for another round, forever hopeful that this day could match the fantasy they have played out in their minds for this very day.
There are the tender gestures of watching an aged couple who have spent the day in the sun turning their chairs away from its heat, noticing her husband has fallen asleep and knowing that his left ear is taking a direct hit from the strong Sarasota sun. She gingerly lifts the towel up from his shoulder to protect his ear trying so hard to not disturb that wondrous beach nap that rests a soul like no other. I am almost sure they are European as I can see the man’s bathing suit is one of those tight Speedo type black shorts, almost Jack Lalanne like and she is very easily sporting a bikini. They both seem so comfortable in their own skin, like Europeans do and I am so sure of this that when I walk to the water for my third dip in the glorious Gulf, I peak my ear to confirm. Yes, they are speaking a different language. I could just tell and I am reminded of my expertise at human observations.
These delicious moments give me pause knowing that I won’t have that aging marriage and those fleeting points in time at the beach on a beautiful day with a husband of fifty years. There is a sadness in it, but also a feeling of relief knowing that I freed both of us from a relationship that had passed its time. I watched them thinking that though I may not have the time invested, I am in the right place with the right partner now. Watching them reminds me of how important it is to be with the right companion because watching the ease between these two lovely people is also my ease.
Birds eye view on all of the phases of relationship, the ones barely starting, the ones in their infancy state, the ones hanging out. There are the ones who sit there alone cherishing the silence within themselves. There are the couples reading books, there are the people who can’t put their phones down even on the brightest and most gorgeous of days continuing to look down instead of looking up and out. There are the ones who have grown gracefully with the acceptance that is part of a successful relationship and there are the ones hanging on for dear life. There are the ones that don’t even know the tsunami is on its way and they sit together in their vulnerability and silence not knowing.
As I sat there making my observations I of course imagined what I was seeing. After all I don’t know anything about any of these people. I don’t know which ones have just suffered deep loss, which ones are celebrating the joys that are part of the natural ebb and flow of life. I just add to the stories by my birds eye view as I sat there for eight hours looking at their outsides with my insides. And I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again.