“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.” — Maya Angelou
It feels like releasing your breasts to the breeze on a sweltering summer day. No matter where you’ve been it welcomes you, enveloping your being in all that you need. It is your your place of refuge, your safe haven, your sanctuary. Sometimes this place is obvious: your favorite chair, your Nana’s arms, the shores of Nassau, the last bathroom stall. Other times your sanctuary makes its hideaway home in the hearts of other humans.
Last month it was a small beach town with Confederate flag merchandise in the giftshop windows. A water tower just off the shore boasted the seaboard name across its broad blue chest: Atlantic Beach.
The beachfront was mostly quiet. The fun crowd had gone home for the summer, and had taken with them any pressure to be sexy, pleasing, or wild. The shores of mid-September were mostly populated with white-faced locals and people like me, who didn’t care for the rush of summer’s busy beach season.
Even the ocean seemed shy. It didn’t offer up any sea glass like I’d hoped, but the shells were plentiful and whole. Further back on the shore there was a section of sand comprised of churned bits of seashells. I imagined the sea depositing the shells onto the shore after long drunken nights with the moon. They made a beautiful mosaic and offered a satisfying crunch under my feet.
Shells become shores, I thought as I walked over that special part of the beach. It was a certified message from god Himself. When you think your life is over, there is more to (be)come. Crunch. You never know what God will make of you. Crunch. There is life after brokenness. Crunch. There is life after you think your purpose has been fulfilled. Crunch. And it is beautiful.
I was there on doctor’s orders, the doctor being my roommate, and the order being that I go spend some time at the beach alone, with my butt in the sand, and my back to the beach houses, so that I could return to being the Roconia she’d known for ten years. I went, as suggested, but I brought my friend along. I could afford the car rental, the ocean suite, the meals, the souvenirs. But I couldn’t afford to go it alone so far below the Mason-Dixon. Not in this skin. I needed someone who wouldn’t tax my time or energy, someone who would be there in all the right ways. Enter Tay.
Tay can best be described as all the me that could not fit. God, in His infinite wisdom, stretched my being to a 5’10” frame, and packed what he could of my awesomeness inside. But when He lifted me from the crafting table and said “it is finished,” He took every bit of my residual material and called it Tay. Being with Tay often feels like spending time with myself. There are things I’ll just never have to explain to her. She’s funny and and real and quick-witted as they come. And I never have to worry about her invading my space.
The simple things brought me leaps of joy. That first flop down on the sand with the sun scanning my back for knots. The ocean rocking to its own lunar beat, raking the sand ahead of me for treasures I’d never see. Directing a “photoshoot” to bring out the best in my friend.
On the way back to Greenville, we listened to show tunes from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hanson. The air was crisp and the sky was a cliche September blue. We had a day of freedom behind us, and one just up ahead. I knew, as it was happening, that I’d never want to forget my weekend winding through small towns cut into North Carolina’s eastern coast.
I found sanctuary that weekend. I built a simple sand
castle strip mall and walked with the waves. I was given room and time to focus on myself, and no reason to dwell on anything beyond my needs. I slept in a coral suite and watched the sun rise from the sand. We decorated our next journals and I felt safe being lulled to sleep by the voice of a trusted friend.
Find sanctuary. Build one in your nest at home. Find it in the arms of your favorite friend. Find it in a five dollar matching sweaters souvenirs, brimming to the hem with good juju. Look for all the places that are ready to receive you, all of you, and go there.