Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I talk a lot about moments.  Living in the moment, embracing the moment, not missing the moment. But what if the moment sucks?  What if the moment is so filled with stress and awkwardness it chokes you?  What if the moment is so crowded with years of hurt feelings and misunderstandings?  What if all you want to do is get out of the moment?

Part of my trip was that moment, that moment I felt stuck in.  I felt trapped in a role I was cast in years ago as the emotional, sensitive one.  The one that has too many feelings.  The misfit, the broken one.  The trip was after all a family reunion.   A reunion with great expectations and well, a lot of messy feelings and broken people.

I usually dig these reunions of past and present and future.  All the generations taking a break from the messy brokenness and going to the beach.  Laughing, connecting, sharing stories of relatives we didn't know, passing down family legends and jokes.  Not hiding from the past, more like embracing the parts that they and we all lived through.  And at the same time making new memories and new inside jokes.

This year, it just wasn't working for some of us.  Sometimes a line is crossed that breaks open a flood of bottled up resentment that has more power than the crashing waves on the shore.  

My brother told this story about his friend from Sicily.  His friend is a well-liked man with many friends.  He loves to talk and listen.  But sometimes when the talks turn into a heated political debate or ideas that are too far out for him, he throws his hands up dramatically, closes his eyes and says in his thick Italian accent "Too-much-ahhh" and walks away.

This, my friends, is what you do when a moment is suffocating you.  This, my friends, is what I did with those moments of my week.  Sometimes it was a joke to my brother, sometimes it was in my room at night after a good cry.  But it worked.  Because most of the "conflict" was way Too-much-ahhhh.

So, I focused on my present and my future....my four kiddos.  And while it was exhausting not to let on that I was feeling any bit of uncomfortableness, I pulled it off.  They had no idea and they had so much fun.  And I had fun with them.

I focused on the moments full of hope and light and wonder and love and magic.

Moments of collecting shells and sea creatures.  Sometimes discovering perfect shells, but finding beauty in the broken ones too.

Jumping waves and running from the big ones.

Playing Marco Polo because it's the best pool game ever invented, duh.

Celebrating 45 years of lasting love and marriage with puffy paint posters and seashell frames (and champagne and complete and total admiration if you're a grown up).

Cheering on brave body surfers.  My kids had no fear of the ocean which is great, but also completely Too-Much-Ahhhh.  While I was on the shore with Wade, the other kids went out chasing waves and body surfing.  I constantly counted heads as they popped up.  I felt like Carol Brady anxiously watching from the beach. Remember the Hawaii episode where Greg was surfing and then didn't pop up after crashing into a wave?  Thank goodness none of my kids were wearing a cursed medallion. 

Making wishes.  Which was all very magical in fountains surrounded my palm trees, live oaks and street performers in Savannah (one of my favorite cities).

Catching Lulu daydreaming.

We left the beach and drove to Alabama to visit more family.  Every summer I go to my spend time with my cousin.  In the same town I've been going to every summer of my life.  It was a great way to wrap up the trip.  We all went to a minor league baseball game in the same stadium that I used to go to when I was a kid.  

Making the 13 hour drive back to metro Detroit yesterday, I was tired.  Tired from all the playing, all the getting stuck in a bad moment and getting unstuck, all the overthinking, overfeeling, all the fun, and all the god damn driving.  

We made our annual stop at GunTown Mountain Kentucky (another one of my favorite places remember this and this?).  "Half Off Everything" signs were posted on the doors of the country store.  We walked in and were greeted by the amazing Miss Della who has run the store for the past 45 years.  (And remembers us when we stop by every summer!)

"It's a big sale today," I told her.

"Yeah, I'm retiring and shutting the place down," she said in a voice that so closely resembles my grandmother's it my makes my heart hurt.

All of a sudden, it was Too-Much-Ahhhh.  My eyes filled up with tears and the kids asked "what's wrong mom?" for the first time the whole trip.

"Um, I'm just sad, this won't be here and we won't see Della," I said, my voice cracking.  It was that and everything else good and bad from the last 11 days.

Della reached over and grabbed my hand and said, "Well hon, it's going to be okay, it's all going to be okay."

And I believe her.


  1. Oh my. I loved this post...soo much--ahhh:)

  2. Great post, what I needed to hear today -- that it will be all okay... :)
    Thanks for sharing and I hope you had a great vacation with your beautiful kiddos before school starts back up!

  3. It's so hard when something that's supposed to be fun becomes overwhelming in some ways. I feel that kind of pull with my family a lot. It becomes a lot of me trying to make everyone happy and then feeling like I'm stretched bubblegum just waiting to pop.

    But Della is so, so right :)

  4. Lovely. Beautiful writing.

  5. I feel the TOOMUCHAHHHH sometimes,too. I get it. And I'm sorry your trip had those moments. I'm glad you wee able to get unstuck for the amazing moments that you've captured here, though, too.