You learn a lot about yourself living the Foreign Service lifestyle. There’s nothing like moving every 1-3 years, finding yourself constantly dropped in new situations and new countries, to speed the process of learning who you are (good and bad).
I, for example, have learned this: though I love me an adventure, I’m a rooted person at heart. Living in China and Suriname were irreplaceable experiences… but when all is said and done, I could be happy settling in my hometown, among the family and friends of my childhood. I’ve been to beaches in Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand, Ireland, Curaçao, Aruba, and Costa Rica. Every one of those places has stunningly beautiful coastlines, and I feel so blessed to have been able to visit.
But my favorite beach is still the slice of the Gulf of Mexico I call home.
Luckily, I have a husband who takes/sends me home whenever he can. And my recent Texas adventures didn’t disappoint. Of my 11 days back, I made it oceanside on 8 of them. That tallied up to:
6 surf sessions with my dad and/or brothers.
1 offshore boat trip to snorkel around an oil rig reef
1 line-caught fish (though it was just a feisty hardhead we were happy to send back to the sea)
1 jellyfish sting across the mouth (weirdest.sensation.ever.)
1 stalking of a sea turtle through the waves
1 very satisfying bout of “ocean-gazing”
Perhaps only my fellow ocean-lovers will get this, but for me, the sea truly is a balm for my soul. That’s where I’m my happiest, most whole self.
Society6 is, in my (slightly-biased) opinion, one of the coolest online shopping venues around. Artists can upload their original work, then see it transformed into all manner of lifestyle goods ranging from blankets to bar stools, cellphone cases to coffee mugs, shower curtains to stationary.
I was super excited to see what I could do with my paintings. But I was nervous, too. What if my work didn’t showcase well?
But thanks to my most faithful patroness (merci, Mom!), I recently got to road-test some products. The trio of beach towels she’d ordered accompanied me on a father/son/daughter surf session at one of my favorite beaches in the world–North Packery, in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.
I can now report that the towels held up valiantly to the abuse of sand, sun, and saltwater. And Society6 did an excellent job ensuring every color was vibrant, every detail crisp. A pretty impressive feat, considering that it involved converting 11″ x 14″ paintings into 74” x 37” towels.
One of my favorite things in the whole, wide world is surfing. My skills are nowhere near that of my dad (who’s literally been surfing for decades) or my brother Hunter. But very few things make my heart as thoroughly, joyfully content as getting out in the waves. It’s therapeutic for my soul, in a way not even writing can touch.
And the fact that surfing’s a family affair is the very sweet cherry atop my wave-catching sundae.
During this trip home to Texas, the weather on the Gulf Coast was consistently misty, adding a cool, eerie cast to my dad and my cold-water surf sessions.
The low visibility certainly didn’t keep us from saddling up and riding out to catch some waves with the last slivers of “daylight.”
Now that’s what I call a good family portrait: me, my dad, our boards, and even my dad’s indestructible-beach-and-hunting-lease-tacklin’-carry-it-all van. The only thing missing was Hunter, who’s busy kickin’ butt at college.
Unfortunately, the husband and I had to spend Valentine’s Day apart this year. Nevertheless, he still managed to spoil me from afar with chocolates and TWO bouquets. And knowing his Texas girl is a fanatic for her home state, he even managed to track down a Lone-Star Living bouquet:
True to disorganized form, I wasn’t as good at getting a timely gift into his hands. But for my husband, I offer this Sara Groves song (one of my favorites):
Baby can you help me get undone The party is over and their hearts were won There’s a zipper in the back But I can’t reach it on my own And I am dying to get out of this so
Baby will you help me get undone
I don’t even remember how I got this on I started out pretending Now I don’t recognize myself And I could use a little help
You have no pretenses All your walls are fences I can see right through You have no two faces You know where our place is and that’s why I need you Oh baby
Baby will you help me get undone I don’t even remember how I got this on I started out pretending Now I don’t recognize myself And I could use a little help
Cause I started out pretending Now I don’t recognize myself And I could use a little help Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby Will you help me get undone