I stood on two sandcastles today. Don’t get the wrong idea. I did not go down the beach with a maniacal “Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!” destroying children’s creations. We were there after hours. After all of the castle creators except my own had gone home. There were only some training lifesavers re-enacted their emergencies. An older couple with hip 1970’s attire batting a ball back and forth with beautiful teak ping pong meets badminton paddles. A couple of joggers--a young man tall and skinny and an old man short and hugely muscular. A hard bodied woman trainer in her pink “Bring It” shirt and her sweaty recruit looking like she wanted to beg for mercy. A mom not much older than me stopping to collect her not-much-older-than-mine sons. Flagging them down in the surf, arms waiving above her head, shaking her head as the older one signed “One more” several times then disregarded her head shaking and paddled back into the surf. She didn’t seem annoyed. Her boys were only maybe a year older than mine. Tan. Long haired. Well worn wet suits. Such a good microcosm of Australian life.
The beach was quiet but the water was full of surfers. Waiting all in a line. They look a bit like ducks when you watch from the shore. Mine were in the water too. Not quite as far out as the experts. Managing their unwieldy styro boards. They stood up a few times. Huge grins on their faces. Then came in and spent the rest of the time jumping off sand dunes and covering themselves in sand. Wanderer and the Littlest played in the surf. Hilariously cute in their matching wetsuits.
I was too cold to brave the water. So I walked along instead. Picking up seashells. Watching seagulls. Glad to be free of the house--which was Wanderer’s point in bringing us here so close to bedtime of course. Tears put aside for a few minutes. The frustration and anger with inflexible landlords. Negligent management companies. Frustrating exchanges. Written and re-written then tweaked and re-written again emails trying to be firm, but not put anyone off. A seventh week gone by with a dysfunctional oven. Kind of an important feature when you can’t eat anything from packages and cook nearly every meal at home. A nagging feeling that originates from old wounds of being trapped, of not having a home.
Near the rockpools at the edge of the beach I spotted the sandcastle. Already partially reclaimed by the tide its ramparts were softened, towers brought down to size. So I stood on it. Feeling strangely connected to this soft and slowly disintegrating piece of art on the sand. I was a small island raised slightly above the waves as they rolled in. The clear truth of ‘what’s wrong’ hitting me somewhere near the lump in my throat, the tears just behind my eyeballs.
Lately my homes feel much like sandcastles. There is the joy of their creation. Hard work shared among our little close family. Friends invited to add bits here and there. The chance to enjoy our handywork for a few fleeting moments, but knowing that the tide will come in soon. Not sure when or how quickly. It will come though. Sometimes gently and slowly washing away our work. Sometimes crashing in and taking it back all at once. Then on we go. Pack our things and move to the next space. Not too discouraged to attempt a new masterpiece, but perhaps making things a little smaller, a little less grand. Enjoying the feel of the new materials. The new view. But knowing that the waves will come and wash us away to another location. Wondering where it will be. Who will share the new adventure. How long we’ll sojourn there.