Stories & Lessons

Celebrating Imperfectly Perfect Moments

The gulls tipped gingerly away from the sea foam

They ceded their ground to me as I walked along the water line

But they knew that it was only for a moment…they belonged there, time immemorial

As constant as the waves, as sure as the tide coming in and out

I was only a visitor, a transient hedonistic worshipper of the sea

Imperfect because I do not yet have my spot at the ocean

Perfect because any time spent communing with the sea is a blessing

Temporary…for that imperfectly perfect moment

The trip to Myrtle Beach has been great so far. I have to say that I am amazed at how easily I have fallen into my own company. My days have taken on a rhythm that I like—the walks along the beach, the taking of some symbol for the little alter to the sea I am building in the timeshare unit, the comfort of sleeping with the tv on, the ease of eating for one. The funny thing is that this trip has been far from perfect…fairytale perfect. But each day actually has been a treat. So we got to the hotel late Thursday evening…and it was not what I was expecting. We had to go 13 miles to check into the hotel because they only kept staff at their sister resort, not at the place into which we were checking in. We had a pretty large 3 bedroom, 3 bath condo right on the water…just the two of us. Way too much space for me and my beloved. But we were only going to be there for about 6 hours before moving on to our timeshare unit. Was this place perfect? No, it had a slight musty smell in the bedroom. Things were poorly made, shoddy and cheap. So what could have been a really spectacular place was passing at best. But this unit had a really great ocean front vista. After a really good sleep, we woke up and were treated to two different groups of dolphins swimming and surfacing right in front of us. So in this imperfect big unit, we had the perfect awakening and welcome to Myrtle Beach. Vince claimed that the dolphin sighting was definitely a good talisman.

We headed out to breakfast and found a little place around the corner. Golden Griddle Pancake House … at the beach. But it wasn’t at the beach—it was on a pretty boring road up the street from the beach. And it was filled with old people. Old white people. We stood out like two sore thumbs. So did we have the perfect breakfast? No, it wasn’t an aesthetically gorgeous place right on the ocean with tantalizing breakfast entrees and beautiful people serving you. Yet it was perfect because we wanted pancakes. And this place had great pancakes. Our waitress, Brenda, just doted on us. The place was relatively quiet—we’d missed the morning rush—so Brenda was quite attentive. I asked for honey and lemon for my tea and she brought out the jar of honey…no need to get all fancy and put it in a container . We had just the right amount of food and the price was definitely on the money. In a fancier restaurant, we would have paid for the coffee with what it cost for our whole meal. We were offered true Southern hospitality. Once we got past all of the differences, we had a really lovely time at the Golden Griddle. We had an imperfectly perfect breakfast.

We got to our timeshare and I was salivating at the thought of being right on the ocean. I had traded for an oceanfront unit and for once I wasn’t going to be in it for just one or two days or have to share it with ten crazy relatives. It was going to be just me and Vince for a glorious weekend and then just me for a peaceful week of solitude. So imagine my surprise when the woman checking us in showed us our building on the map. We weren’t ocean front—we were back some ways from the ocean. I think the disappointment must have showed up all over my face. She clucked and comforted me. She assured me, you are getting a unit with a beautiful view of the ocean. Believe me, she said, there are people who are up here in the buildings that are ocean front who would kill to have the view that you do. I was skeptical but decided to make the best of it actually…what could I do. The units in the buildings closer to the water were all filled. So were we in the perfect ocean front villa—where we could open our windows and hear the crashing waves and see a group of dolphins swimming by? No, we were a short walk away from the shore. And once we got to the unit, I learned that the woman was indeed not lying. We had a really gorgeous landscape of the ocean in front of us (we were on the 15th floor). The ocean front buildings blocked a bit of our view but we had for the most part windows filled with beautiful ocean views. Interestingly, the workout facility and indoor pool were in the building next to ours. As I have wanted to get up really early and workout, I have been able to do so without figuring out how to get from the oceanfront buildings back to the gym. So here we are in this imperfectly perfect two bedroom villa with 95% gorgeous ocean vistas.

And each day, I have gone outside for a walk. In my perfect world, I would have been able to go outside in 60 degree weather, no jacket needed, bright sun beating down on me. That was definitely the plan. Well, that has not been the case at all! The weather has been anything but cooperative. We got here just in time to experience a snow storm—but we were snuggled up inside with each other so that was no problem for us. Since then the weather has been pretty cold. Almost feels like we are still in MA. Defeats the purpose of me coming south to get to warmer weather…because the weather has not been that much warmer. But each day has been a treasure—the walks outside have been beautiful even though they have not happened in ideal weather conditions. The first day, it was cold and I went out just as the sun was going down. So I did much of my walk with dusk closing in on me. I loved seeing the ocean as the sun was kissing her goodbye. I determined that the next day, I would come out earlier. The next day, I did come out a little earlier. It was a tiny bit warmer—I didn’t need my gloves. But it started raining as I was walking back to the hotel. Who knew how beautiful the sky looked dressed in its best grays and silver of the rain gently falling. The next day, I went out much earlier…with full sun. And it was colder than it had been on any of the other days. The wind cut through my sweat pants and I contemplated going back in. Then I decided not to be a wimp; once I got walking, I would be okay. Which is exactly what happened…I got out into the sun, and the wind, and the waves and the gulls and just thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Cold, wet, sun-kissed, windblown…each condition has contributed to my imperfectly perfect walks on the beach.

Each day, I have also picked up a small momento from the ocean; I appreciate her offerings to me and try hard to discern the messages I am supposed to be getting from these small gifts. The first item I picked up was a bit of shell shaped in the form of a triangle. Oh, a symbol of Delta, which means so much to me. Delta stands for the beautiful sorority to which I am only loosely connected…maybe, this is a sign that I should make an effort to get more connected in 2010. But Delta is also the symbol for change—and am I ever facing great and amazing changes this year. I got my sabbatical!! I have put it into the universe that I am going to get this Fulbright (which amazes and terrifies me all at once)!! I have been readying myself to do the work that I am meant to do, to get out of my way and be ready to take full advantage of these moments that are coming up. I like what the three-sided shell portends…that I am ready for change. I decide that each day, I will pick up a small triangle—with different colors and different thicknesses. I will use my ocean gifts to remind myself of the imperfectly perfect learning journey that I am on.

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