Silently, tears fell. The sadness for lost friends, lost love, lost dreams, lost years. For sitting in that beautiful spot all alone. For friends who never showed up. For things that had once seemed a certainty and now certainly will never be....
On Saturday night, I was supposed to meet a friend for tea. We haven't managed to get together since last September, and this was supposed to be a chance to sit down and talk and enjoy a cup of tea on a beautiful evening. He's asked at least a dozen times, but our schedules make get-togethers tough. About a year and half ago, he lost his beloved wife in a car accident, and he needs someone who will still listen to his happy memories of their time together. I listen on the phone, but it's not the same as sitting with someone who knows the story and understands. Finally, we had a night that worked for both of us.
We spoke on the phone at about 8:30. I told him it would be an hour or two until I could get there...I wanted to get my little one to bed, and take care of something for my teenaged daughter. No problem, he said. Just call me when you're on your way. A couple of minutes after 10, I left my apartment. I called his house. No answer. He's probably busy, on another line, away from his phone. I drove towards our meeting place. Fifteen minutes later, I was almost there. I called again. Still, no answer.
I decided to give him a few more minutes. I pulled into the parking lot. Called my daughter to check on her. Chatted for a few minutes. Still no call. I called a third time...no answer. Sent a text. No response. After a dozen requests to get together and at least three times that many calls asking me to come over, I had been stood up.
It was almost 11. I was only a few blocks from the beach. I started my car and headed for the water.
A few minutes and a few coins for the meter later, I was walking on the sand.
At the edge of the water, someone had left a chair...one of those white plastic chairs you see on porches and patios. I slipped off my shoes and headed for the water's edge and that chair. And there I sat, for the next hour. Just me, my thoughts and a chair on a beach.
I was far enough from the beachside restaurants and clubs that the music was reduced to a vague background noise. A few late night fishermen were at the water's edge further down the beach. A brightly lit cruise ship drifted across the horizon.
It was chilly, but I sat there and watched the waves. I thought about love and lost love and life and the future. The tide was coming in, and every once in awhile, the water came up the edge of my chair. I tried to figure out whether having friends who were "no-shows" said something about me or about the friends or maybe about about our society where RVSP's were often overlooked (a complaint I had heard from other moms at school, and two couples planning weddings last year.) It seemed to be happening a lot.
The tide came in a bit more, and the waves got bigger. The water came up to my chair almost every time now. I sat and thought about the fact that twenty minutes, less than a gallon of gas and four quarters for the meter got me a ringside seat at the ocean. I remembered cold nights in my Pennsylvania farm house when such a moment would have been a dream come true. A fantasy I hardly dared contemplate.
The wind picked up, and I curled up in my jacket, wishing I'd worn a sweatshirt instead of a t-shirt. I watched the curl of the waves as they came to shore. And although I was filled with gratitude for that moment, that place, that experience, I cried. Silently, tears fell. The sadness for lost friends, lost love, lost dreams, lost years. For sitting in the beautiful spot all alone. For friends who never showed up. For things that had once seemed a certainty and now certainly will never be.
So much that I keep inside came out there. With no one to explain to, in the blessed darkeness of midnight on the beach, I let the pain pour out until the tears ran dry.
We all keep so much inside. Pain, fear, loneliness. I know I do. I know my friend does. Sometimes, the tears just need to come.
I took a few deep breaths of the salty night air then headed back to my car, and drove home. Emptier. Lighter.
Maybe there is a reason both tears and the sea are made of salt water