The only time I rise before 6 AM better be for a good reason, and this was. My alarm buzzed annoyingly at three AM and I awoke, cheerful and giddy as if I had slept twelve hours instead of a mere two. It didn’t matter though, because I was going on vacation. It was strange waking and driving through the darkness of odd hours-hours filled with quiet and inactivity. Hours of uncertainty and loneliness. It’s even stranger to embark on a plane without your family- three kids and a husband. But I did. I left my family for a great escape with three amazing woman.
I love my family, so it wasn’t that I needed to escape them. What I really needed to escape was “the race”. Most days I hit the ground running and then race all day to get things done. Some of my sprints are important, like work and groceries and bills. Others are annoying, like cleaning up dog vomit, changing the cat litter, and scrubbing toilets. I am the one in my family who does such things and it was nice for once, to know that I would leave the daily grind back in New Jersey for four days- where it would wait for me until my return.
Linda, Heather, Kristen and I met at the Atlantic City airport, at the ungodly hour of five AM – half asleep but full of hope for what we all needed- rest and relaxation.
Smiles. Hugs. Yawns. We needed coffee as a group and boarded the small plane at 6:45, feeling as though we had been up for days, not hours. None of us was sure how the weekend would unfold. Would the weather be nice? All of us mothers, we normally didn’t have two hours to ourselves, let alone four days. Would the kids be ok without us? While we were about to fly to South
Carolina, I wondered if the one hour transition would allow less worry and more piece of mind. Could we leave the worries of schedules and wash and carpooling kids in New Jersey?
I really hoped so, for each of us.
The plane landed safely in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before nine. Eighty degree weather caressed our faces as we emerged from the airport, tired and stiff. We rented a car, a roomy Hyundai Sonata, dark red so it never hid from us in the parking lot.
The Sonata took us first to Wal-Mart, where we purchased food to nourish our bodies- – grapes, apples, bananas, water and then even better food to nourish our souls- Oreos, biscotti and hot chocolate.
With enough food for four days, we travelled to Linda’s condo on the beach, where we were immediately made to feel at home. Her condo is newly refurbished and colorful. There’s a balcony and from six floors up where we were, we could see schools of fish and a horizon of boats.
Soon after we plopped our groceries and luggage at the condo, we suited up and headed to the beach. The beach was peaceful and the sound of the ocean lulled us into naps. They were short though, because we had much to talk about.
There was the normal stuff that fills conversations, work and diets and hair colors.
But, there were greater issues to share. All of us are survivors. Survivors of divorce, of loss, and of disappointments. Of things that would put some people to bed, for months.
Still, we went to the beach with all of our pain- years worth- years that have been hard to us. We went to the beach with worries for our children as they face life’s challenges. We went to the beach praying for those we love who are in need.
And on the beach we sat and supported each other. There were no judgments or harsh words. No arguments or tense voices. It was safe and inviting. It was warm and breezy, and our conversations were carried out to sea in waves.
We talked late into the night. We laughed over silly things and giggled like our younger selves long after we should have been asleep. It was carefree; joyous.
And although we tried to escape life for a few days, our cells phones rang, and we were needed. Ten hours from home and we still helped our families find frozen dinners, uniforms and phone numbers. We kissed boo boos over the phone and even made doctors’ appointments.
On one of the days, we visited Brookgreen Gardens. A National Historic Landmark, Brookgreen has more than one thousand sculptures artistically displayed throughout fifty acres of plush gardens and impeccably maintained grounds. We walked and talked and took pictures.
There was a gigantic grasshopper who smiled for the camera. The boys would love to see the enormous, squirmy creature. There were butterflies unknown to us but more colorful than Monarchs. There were flowers with fragrances worthy of hand blown glass bottles.
Brookgreen was a wonderful culmination to our great escape.
We left South Carolina on the fourth day, late at night, anxious to hug our families.
I drove home, once again, in the darkness of odd hours-hours filled with quiet and inactivity. Hours, only days ago, filled with uncertainty and loneliness.
On the hour drive home, in the wee hours of the morning, I thought of my dear friends and couldn’t remember what loneliness felt like. My friends were no longer with me, but somehow, I still felt secure, supported and loved.
There was nothing fancy about our stay at Myrtle Beach. We did not get pedicures, massages or new outfits. We did not go scuba diving or dancing.
It only took one ingredient to make a great escape, great women.
Can’t wait till next year.