Saturday, February 17, 2018

Postcard From Virginia Beach

Perfect song for a rainy night in the Tidewater by one of its native sons

I'm writing this at night with my wife and daughters asleep, next to a window overlooking the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean. We made the extremely necessary decision to get out of town over a long weekend, and opted to go to Virginia Beach. It was far enough away but not too far of a drive, and more importantly, well south of New Jersey. The off season beachfront hotels are so desperate for business that I am paying less for this room than I did for the one at a roadside hotel in Dover, Delaware, last night, whose stunning view consisted mostly of an empty lot and a Pizza Hut.

This trip has been incredibly therapeutic, as good travel often can be. The rain-slicked, wind-chilled streets are empty of beach goers, and instead a great backdrop of quiet contemplation and escape. The ocean itself, as it never fails to do, puts my soul in the right mood. Perhaps it's because I grew up in the landlocked prairies of Nebraska that the ocean has a special pull on me. It is not in the mountains but by the ocean that I truly feel awed by nature. Staring out at its massive size and never-ending horizon I feel the hand of the divine and the reminder of my small place in this universe. That reminder is actually comforting, since it is also a reminder of the smallness of my own problems in the grand scheme of things. If I get to retire, I want so badly to live in a seaside town.

Buoyed by the warmth in my soul that the ocean is giving me, we have been enjoying the small pleasures that make life bearable. Looking at the gorgeous expanse of ocean while driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, during lunch today with an old friend and her kids, watching my daughters' joy at the local aquarium, and washing some fresh oysters down with a crisp beer, I have been happier than I have been in months. All I can do tonight is wish that I could feel this way on an ordinary day, that I did not need the promise of vacation to get through so many frustrating, regular weeks of my life. Now I guess I understand why my dad always seemed so happy and excited on our family vacations. I'm feeling thankful tonight that he gave me an example to follow.

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