by P.J. Coldren
Sometimes I am blinded by the obvious. It occurred to me last week, for the first time, that I’ve spent more time in my life with my best friend than with my baby sister. A lot more time. Which might explain why I was surprised when my sister, who has a good grasp of some of my basic interests, didn’t have a clue about something fairly fundamental to my nature.
I left home at eighteen to go to college, and never went back, except for two summers while I was in college. My baby sister is ten years younger than me. She has spent most of her post-college years living abroad. There are legitimate reasons for us not spending a lot of time together. When we have been in the same place at the same time, it’s almost always been for large family functions or in times of crisis. So one-on-one time has been limited.
A few weeks ago, I get to spend a week with my sister and her family in their new home. They live on an island, with wonderful views of water and forest. The house is so new to them that they are still unpacking the last of the boxes that have been in storage while they moved around overseas. I had a wonderful time. It was great to get to know her, and her family, better. I did not know that one of her children thinks I “cook fancy”. Me? Master of the minimal ingredient dinner? So I cooked a dinner and a dessert for them; they loved it. So did I.
My sister thinks I would be a good fit for living on this island. There is a yarn store where people gather to knit. I could like that. There is a book store on the island, and another specialty store just a ferry ride away. I know I would like that. There are, so she tells me, dozens of book groups. There is a group of women that meet regularly to discuss a wide variety of topics. On that one, I told her that the world may not need yet another place for me to voice my opinions! It’s a dog-friendly place with lots of coffee shops and at least one good bakery. What’s not to like?
I think it was the third day of my trip before we got down to the beach. It’s a rocky beach, not a sandy beach, and it was definitely too cold to swim while I was there. Still, a beach is a beach. I told my sister that she could have saved herself all the talk about how well I’d fit in, all the things on the island that I’d enjoy, if she had brought me to the beach on day one. She was totally amazed at this information.
Give me a lawn chair, a book, and a small child (she has a few) to run me coffee (for a nominal fee - it’s a lot of stairs down to the beach from her house) . . . I’m a totally content camper. I can spend hours pretending to read, listening and/or watching the waves. I can walk a beach longer than any wooded trail. Beaches, for me, remind me that no matter how big my problems are to me - they aren’t big. They remind me that no matter how much things remain the same, they still change. I find them soothing, restful, relaxing. Now she knows. Sometimes it’s the people we think we know the best that surprise us the most.