This weekend, James and I spent a good amount of our time at Cedar Beach. If you know Long Island, the South Shore beaches are on the ocean, the North Shore beaches are on the Long Island Sound. South Shore has waves, wind, and that 'beachy' feel (typically crowded, too). North Shore has rocks instead of sand (mostly), no real waves - unless a boat is zipping by - but it does have serenity.
James has lived on the North Shore for many years, and if his time is added up, he probably has spent the equivalent of months of his life on this beach. For him, it is an oasis from the traffic, the rush, the chaos of L. I. He finds peace and solititude and a time to be alone with his thoughts. Time to just 'be.' (One of his most frequently-heard phrases - "Can't we just 'be'???"). There are crowded pockets (mostly near the restrooms), but mostly, solitude can easily be found if you want it.
This place has always had significant meaning for him. Before we met, like I said, this was a place he would go to just find peace and escape the madness of the world. He also spent a lot of time there when marriage was not even a blip on his radar - many years of hanging out with the guys and his friends. In some ways, Cedar Beach was a tangible symbol of his single life. It was his beach.
I actually spent some time at Cedar Beach before we met as well. My friend Liz lived in a cottage not far from there and we would go there, too. We'd sport the bikinis under our church clothes and pack the sand chairs in the back of the car. So, I have some fun memories of single life there as well. Not to the extent that James has, but I associate Cedar Beach with Liz and her cottage - and that is always an association of fun, carefree single days.
Cedar Beach actually plays a role in how we met. On the Friday night of Labor Day Weekend, 2007, James was home and spent some time in prayer about some things. The next day, his friend Rob (the one from the first blog) showed up at Cedar Beach with his girlfriend. James recognized immediately that there was something providential in his showing up there - a direct link to the prayers he had prayed the night before. It was so uncommon and out of the blue - Rob just should not have been there that day. Anyway, he ended hanging out with Rob and Angela that evening, and the next day, Rob invited James to come to church that Sunday - which was the Sunday we met (also detailed in the first blog).
So, what led us together actually had its beginnings at Cedar Beach. Since then, James and I have spent some special time there together. Typically, on a nice weekend, that is where we will find ourselves, often from morning til sunset - and sometimes even later than that. Sometimes, we'd even just leave our blankets and chairs there overnight and find them there the next day, still in the same spot, totally undisturbed. Or sometimes, we'd go down there for a walk on the beach, the pier, or the nature path - sometimes all three.
It has been a transition for him, incorporating me into a place that has been so significant to him in his single life (For James, it is all about the 'process' lol). He has realized that this is the last summer he would be at Cedar Beach as a single guy. Although I've been there with him many times and it has been great, for years this was his place. In some ways, that is bittersweet for him.
So, on this anniversary weekend for us - it was two years ago on Labor Day weekend we met - it seemed fitting and right that we spend some time at Cedar Beach. We didn't plan it - it just sort of 'evolved' (another one of James' favorite phrases: "Let's see how it evolves," lol).
It was a weekend of goodbyes - to the single life being left behind. It was a weekend of celebrating - the providential moments and meetings that brought us together. And it was a weekend of hellos- realizing that the next time we spend the day at Cedar Beach, it will be a brand new experience for us - as husband and wife. And that's exciting, too.
Cedar Beach represents a tangible lesson I'm learning since we have been engaged: it is a series of goodbyes and hellos. We are both a little older (he's 41 and I'm 35), and we have both been single a long time. Although we are super-excited for our new life together, it's a little daunting - and bittersweet - to say goodbye to a familiar, comfortable life you've always known. A life that did have measures of happiness, too.
It's goodbye to complete freedom, independence, self-indulgence - but also goodbye to loneliness, isolation, and alienation, too. It's hello to partnership, oneness, intimacy- but also hello to sacrifice, selflessness and interdependence.
I guess like any change, you have to let go of one thing to embrace another - and both the positives and the seemingly negatives. I have to say, though, I think we both gain more than we lose.
I think Cedar Beach is the link between worlds - between single life and our life together, between his world and my world. I think Cedar Beach has been significant in all of those worlds. It seems that all of our worlds have converged right on that beach.
Goodbye, Cedar Beach. For now. Mr. and Mrs. L. will see you next summer.
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