A handful of days at the beach are like cheap therapy for me. Well, not so cheap, really. There are costs to consider: the cost of the beach house rental, the house and pet sitter fees, dinners out, the cost of gas…
But still. It’s therapy. It’s good for me.
Each day, I awoke, grudgingly, shortly after sunrise, sunlight streaming through the white shades in the lilac-walled master bedroom. The sounds of the kids whispering in the hallway and clopping up the stairs was enough to get my mind moving, anticipating the day ahead. Breakfast was boxed cereal on most days, but on that special first morning, we were treated to gooey slices of Julia’s cream-cheese-stuffed french toast. Hours at the beach, sweaty and sandy with salt-pinched skin, were followed by cool dips in the lap pool and lunch breaks in the crisp, air-conditioned beach house.
Summer is slipping by, faster than should be allowed. My children start their school year on August 20th. On that day, we will be the proud owners of a third-grader and a kindergartener. And for the hordes of us whose lives revolve around the school year, that day will be our first day of fall.
Time to break out the sweaters and boots? Oh, no. Not yet, dear friends, not even close.
The Florida weather gods have ensured that we cannot ignore the summer, even when we prefer to pretend that fall is just around the corner (on August 20th!). There is not a smidgen of cool, crisp weather to be had. The stifling heat, often accompanied by unpredictable mosquito attacks, has banished me from my beloved front porch – and back porch, too, for that matter. I’ve taken up jogging again (it never seems to stick), and each morning after running in 95% humidity this week, I feel like a sponge with asthma.
I spent last night in a shiny, modern hotel in Manhattan, on Crosby Street in Soho. It was my last night in the city, and the first night since leaving the Big Summer Potluck in Pennsylvania. The previous two nights, I’d shared a room in a Bethlehem hotel with two talented and beautiful friends, Winnie and Lindsay. But last night, I was by myself again, soon to head home to my family.
In the elevator on my way down to breakfast this morning, I caught myself avoiding looking at my reflection in the mirrored elevator walls. I’ve never liked seeing myself in mirrors. When faced with mirrors, I tend to focus only on the necessary parts, singularly – the contour of my eyelid as I put on eyeliner, the center of my lip as I apply lipstick– but rarely as a complete person. I realized, in that mirrored elevator ride, that by avoiding my image – avoiding myself – I was doing the exact opposite of what I’d spent the weekend doing at the Big Summer Potluck. During the Potluck, a retreat for food writers, photographers, and bloggers, I’d spent hours reflecting on myself as a whole, looking inward, delving deep, and taking stock of both who I am and where I’m headed.
While food was a focus of the retreat (I refuse to call it a conference), the Big Summer Potluck was, to me, less about food and more about enjoying and embracing the community of writers and creative types who make up this food blogging world. It was about finding meaning and purpose in what we do, be it making beautiful photographs, creating nourishing food, writing the book we’ve been dreaming about for so long, or lifting up and supporting those we love and cherish.