We are only guests here.
A few years back, I happened to put a few roots down some miles from the Gulf. I had no presumptions about what magic we would find here either. But within days, we found it. Drawn by some inner pull towards the shore and our general curiosity to see what all the fuss was about, we arrived at the Gulf’s coastline.
And we fell in love.
The Gulf stands clear and calm, mild and magnificent. Unlike the rough, tumbling waters we already knew off the shores of New England, these waters relented. They allowed us to wade in easily and settle quietly. They greeted us with fish darting around our toes and did not knock our baby on his butt. The Gulf was a warm welcome party, lulling us to stay awhile and sink our feet deep into its powder fine sand.
The Gulf is unlike any other body of water I’ve known before.
And since we have arrived, I’ve brought my family back again and again. I have walked on its shores with a new baby inside, calmed and safe. I have puttered out on boats and tossed myself blindly into it. So have my children. I have swum away from it’s shores and dived deep. I have been surrounded and filled with its aqua green, up around and over all of me.
The Gulf drops you to your knees and insists that you bathe in it, to roll around in it, to soak it up and slosh unheeded with its ebb and flow.
The Gulf surprises you with its true inhabitants. A dolphin slips by – a finger tip’s length away. A large gray shape lumbers past (not a mermaid but a manatee). Rays skate on its bottom. Fish of every size dash and jump and race through its quiet movement. Birds dive and swoop and come up with full beaks. Crabs scurry past your feet. Sand dollars are dug up with your toes. Star fish bend on your hand.
Life is everywhere.
And I am only a visitor. A guest. A passerby who barges through it’s open front door and settles her family on it’s shores. But there’s always a place for us – and a few intended hours predictably turn into an entire day. My children are endlessly entertained and utterly exhausted. I am rocked, repaired and relaxed. We stay and stay and stay.
The Gulf feeds and cleanses. The sand our bread, the water our wine.
We are renewed.
And then the Gulf bids the sun in and signals the inevitable end of our day. We pull our salted bodies up, gather our things and plod away. No matter how long we have overstayed our welcome, we are never entirely sated. We always come back. We always want more.
The Gulf feels like home.
But we are only guests here.