18 August 2009

The End of Summer

Oh (said with a long exasperated exhale of a sigh tinged in grief).

It's quieter around the house as my son is off to spend his days in the government care that we call school. I feel such a sense of melancholy. For I admit, though there were days that I was at my wits end with him, I want summer to go on and on.

As school cranks its gears into motion, I'm still at the beach romanticizing about giant live oaks and wild horses while following bobcat tracks into the wood. I'm still whirling about how much I enjoyed spending time relaxing with another family as we shared duties such as cooking, childcare, dishes, and fetching water. I appreciated the constant conversations, support and openness that seemed flow so easily on the island. I liked being half naked not worried about body image while sauntering around in a bathing suit feeling the sun warming my skin.

A few more days on the island would have had me reverted into a tribal state...my mind was already reaching there wandering and feeling freer and freer each moment. I didn't pick up a book nor my journal once. My senses exploded, and I simply rode the wave enjoying every free moment not concerned with documenting or educating. As the writer, I felt such a sense of relief to release the occasional burden of expression through written word which often haunts me.

On the last night, I wanted to take a shower, naked, at the "rinse off" shower near the boardwalk that leads to the beach. Though the traditional unisex showers were merely surrounded by a few thin walls with hooks, a locking door and simple screen as a roof, I wanted to take a shower amongst the trees.

Earlier that day, BB and I were out on the bikes and found a beach access to what is called Greyfield Beach where the few residents and the guests of the Greyfield Inn go enjoy the sea. After an hour of beachcombing at Greyfield Beach (where residents of the isle get to drive their four-wheelers with their supplies onto the beach...oh, heavens, imagine if they had to walk like the rest of us?), we headed back to sea camp with a few treasures to show the boys. On the main road, nailed to tree, was a tiny little sign posted way up high pointing to the luxurious, notorious and mysterious Greyfield Inn. And of course, we wanted to see it. (Both BB and I live in historic homes in an H-1 nationally protected historic zone. We kind of have a thing for old things.)

We rode up the tree lined drive on our rented beach cruisers, and it opened to a clearing. There were buildings, a few horses grazing on a lawn and, beyond some large live oaks, the Inn. We were going to bike past it (not get off our bikes and try to go in...we were sandy and gritty from the beach and LORD we have more sense then to mess up their lobby!) when a woman halted us. She told us that we needed to exit the property since non guests disturb the privacy of the residents of the island and the guests of the hotel.

I was flabbergasted that I couldn't just bike past the Inn, a historic site and landmark on the island. The night before, Chad and I jumped the broom to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. In all honesty, I was hoping (since I was on the island which is an eight and a half hour drive from Knoxville) to see the Inn up close and personal with ambition to return for a future anniversary. Well, the woman wasn't haven't any of that. There was no getting by this Sentry. She told us that we could see the Inn online at the website, though the Inn sat right in front of me hidden by a few trees.

(Chad told me on the return to Knoxville that he researched the Inn before we left town. They have a restaurant, and he wanted to take me to dinner for our 10th wedding anniversary. The Inn is so particular and illustrious, that one MUST be a registered guest to dine or even sit at the bar there.)

BB and I laughed and complained all the way back to Sea Camp. Of course, we knew that she was just doing her job, but it felt good to blow off some steam as we were slammed and humbled into our commonness and peasant status among the truly Wealthy. We decided though, that peasant-ness was good because we gots the freedom to have fun (even the Wealthy try to slum it every once in while, but we ain't havin' them!).

Back to the shower. It was this truly humbling experience along with my newly tanned beach skin (those of you who know me KNOW how dark I get) along with walking barefooted in a skimpy (yet modest) swim suit covered in beach salt and sand that opened the flood gates for a feeling of utter and complete tribalism. Suddenly, all the common folk of the island and world were of my tribe.

There are many who try to pretend that they aren't of common folk, but there's no denying it. One may have wealth, but Cumberland Island and the Greyfield Inn are of the Carnegie's and Kennedy's. It don't matter who you are, you is common. If you ain't from that "old" money, you is pretendin', fool.

I imagined that I was a servant or a slave on the island and as the Gents and Women dined seven courses, we cooked over an open fire slapping together a feast to rival the best culinary delights. As the Fine People dined with linen cloths and silverware lined neatly and properly at each setting, we sucked down our food with shared or no utensils letting the juices drip from our fingers and chins while sitting around a wooden picnic table draped in a vinyl red and white checkered cloth. As the Wealthy sat in corsets and tuxedos, we let our bare feet and our sons' bare feet collect more beach sand as the sand flies bit our ankles.

And when it was all over, I wanted to take a shower the way a servant or a slave of the 1800's may have had to do it. Outside and unashamed knowing exactly what I came from, like life crawling from the ocean and completely bonded with Earth.