The sounds of my grandchildren Zadie and Malik quietly chattering while playing with legos, the chopping of vegetables as my two daughters prepare dinner, the lap of the waves of close-by Lake Michigan. This the music Mozart and Miles aimed for, but to my ears, this is far superior.
And a feast for the eyes also, as Zadie puts on her post-swim reddish-patterned dress that perfectly complements her beauty, Malik dressed in an equally complementary blue shirt. I told them I would love them no matter what they looked like, but beauty is not something to put casually to the side. We are all refreshed by it and I’m not just talking about the glamor-magazine kind. The glow on the skin is partly the happiness radiating from their perfect bodies.
My own beauty is more soul deep than skin deep, the latter sagging and wrinkled as age demands, but the former growing yet more beautiful as the years roll on, which is to say, finally coming into focus as its true shape and color. After a long-awaited swim in the lake after a 7-day Odyssey across the country, I jumped in the shower, shaved my accumulated scraggly beard, donned fresh clothes, cut my nails—finger and toes—and I’m feeling an inner radiance shining forth from this old body. And then, joy of all joys, that constant pleasure this traveler takes in unpacking the suitcase and hanging the clothes in the closet, nesting the folded T-shirts and underwear in the drawers, putting the books on the shelves, that so-satisfying sense of arriving and putting the inner and outer house in order, preparing for the life that awaits.
It has been quite a week, the usual bouncing back and forth between heaven and hell, but the heavens higher than the norm and the hells a notch deeper. (And to be fair, heaven outweighed hell by a significant margin). Six souls between 5 years old and 70 years old thrown together in one car and one Cruise-America Recreational Vehicle (RV) with the ultimate destination of our summer retreat on the shores of Lake Michigan, a place my wife and I have come to annually since 1975, my own children for most of their 36 and 40 years and now my grandchildren having joined the party.
I always enjoy hanging my clothes when I unpack, but to put them into the closet of the room where so many previous incarnations of myself have lived and loved and dreamed and savored summer carries an extra measure of happiness and adding to that, the miracle of escaping from the limits of sheltering within the limits of San Francisco to the expansive sky, sand and water of this most lovely place, well, this is a gift from the gods.
I sorely missed writing each day of the last seven, but once you hear the story, it will be clear why this was simply impossible. But stay tuned. Hope to capture bits and pieces in retrospect in the days to come. Meanwhile, the dinner is cooking, the sun begins its descent over the waters and this happy traveler is sending out his message in the first year of Wi-fi at the summer cottage. Yes, things change (including the lakes coastline), but as long as there is life, we are blessed to be here with it all. Blessed to feel the sense of arrival. And I do.