Katie and I spent a few days in Myrtle Beach last week, part of our ongoing anniversary celebration. 45 years today.
Katie has, as I’ve indicated recently, a deep interest in health and exercise, although she also has an intense interest in tea. She carries her own tea bags when we go out to eat—but she took a kettle, filter and several kinds of loose leaf tea on our trip. We sat on our sixth-floor balcony each morning, sometimes early enough to watch the sunrise, sipping a first flush Darjeeling and watching the lifeguards set up umbrellas on the beach.
We stayed off the beach in the middle of the day, something my beach-wise mom and aunt taught me early in life growing up on the Gulf in South Florida. In the evenings when it was cooler, we walked north, away from the hotels and resorts and the noise. The surf was relatively calm, the air warm and salty. Solitude is a thing you can share.
The experience was relaxing for me and, finally, for her. While walking on the beach was always natural, almost primal, for me, she has been more anxious, especially when we had four kids at home. Think safety and sand. But years of marriage can teach you many things—and one is to appreciate and even embrace those things our partners love. Her tea. My beach.
But I was still surprised when she suggested we walk to North Carolina, about 25 miles up the coast. We have been walking a lot—but I countered with a more modest goal. Let’s walk to Murrell’s Inlet, “only” 15 miles away. And so, on Saturday morning, when the temperature was forecast to get up into the mid 80’s instead of the mid 90’s where it had been all week, we set out before sunrise on our adventure, beneath a thin crescent moon and a morning star.
We picked a cafe at the south end of the beach and set out, stopping to watch the sunrise on the boardwalk, walking up to the highway and around a couple of streams emptying into the sea. The strand, as it is called, is 60 miles of Carolina beach, and we walked a quarter of it, stopping to read the historical markers about hurricanes past, resting frequently, and stopping for lunch to split an amazing seafood salad at the Conch Cafe. Sometimes the beach was crowded with weekend sun-seekers. In other places, it was practically empty.
The walk was longer, hotter and more difficult than we expected. And more rewarding. The joy in reaching a milestone together, whether it is an anniversary or a restaurant at the end of the day, is palpable. Our trek took over ten hours, a mere fraction of our lives together. But we were together, after all these years. And that was and is the greater joy of covenant-keeping love, a manifestation of a Grace beyond ourselves. Thanks be to God.
Gulfstream Grill looks out over an inland marsh. I had grouper, caught that day, and Katie ordered crab cakes. For the record, we took a Lyft back to the hotel. And I wrote a poem for our anniversary earlier in the week, which seem to fit here:
On our anniversary
“Mesmerizing,” she said,
saying after 45 years
what I had always known
about the sea.
Large waves crashed
as surf beat the sand,
the shaded breeze a refuge
from the sun.
“Somewhere in Africa,”
she mused, the same sea
beat against a different shore
with equal force.
I said nothing, but felt
waves of memory swell,
a childhood lived beside
a different sea.
“Let’s take a walk.”
We join hands and share
what we have come to know—
So happy anniversary, my dear sweet Love. The joy really is in the journey. Thank you for each step we’ve taken together.
What have you and your spouse learned to love together?