On the porch
Marriage in midlife and moments in a tiny seaside village.
Joe ~ Saint Simons Island, Ga., May 2023
I intended to write this from the southern coast of Georgia, where Joe and I spent four nights this past week. I pictured waking early a morning or two, taking my laptop and coffee to the wraparound porch of our Airbnb—previous renters raved about the expansive porch; this particular amenity, not to mention the cottage’s “one block away!” proximity to the ocean, led me to book this particular spot—and I’d write with abandon. Or at the very least, I’d have peace and quiet to be with my thoughts and see how the words would flow in the warmth and sunshine of a region completely new to me, to us.
Alas, the writing didn’t happen. We didn’t get up nearly as early as we thought we might. (“We should walk down to the beach and watch the sunrise!” I said early on, which sounded great in theory but the delicious sleep felt even better.) We did, however, spend quite a bit of time on that porch, sipping coffee and saying good morning to the numerous walkers, runners, and cyclists making their way along the stretch of road several steps away from where we sat lazily, our hands wrapped around hot mugs, a plate of cut-up fruit and book within reach, a light blanket covering my bare legs.
The cheesy morning porch picture we sent to our kids.
Back home, when I told Emma about the porch and people-watching and long conversations with her dad over coffee while sitting in rocking chairs, she was amused by my gushing about the serenity of it all. “You sound so old, Mom!” A beat later, the smile still in her voice: “But, it does sound really nice.”
It truly was, and not only because it was as serene a spot as promised in the rental description. The porch-sitting was a highlight of our short getaway to Saint Simons Island, a trip I planned for this in-between period before starting my new job, because somewhat surprisingly it became a place where Joe and I had some of the most honest conversations we’ve had in a very long time. In those moments, just us talking without any distractions, I felt a knot I didn’t know was wound tight inside me come loose and unravel. There we are. We’re still here, still us. And: things are different now; they’re—we’re—changing. How will our story unfold?
Throughout the four and half days we spent in Georgia, as Joe found a handful of fully intact, buried sand dollars during our beach stroll on nearby Jekyll Island, as we relished fresh oysters and listened to live music at the pier, and as we rode cruiser bicycles through quiet neighborhoods and to the shoreline for more low-tide seaside strolls in the company of hermit crabs, I kept thinking about that porch. I thought about how sometimes it takes leaving home and venturing over a thousand miles and through multiple states with the person so familiar to you, the person with whom you’ve been for more than half your life, to really see each other and what marriage looks and feels like 24 years in.
Jekyll Island, May 2023
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