prepare – verb | pre·pare | \pri-ˈper\
: to make (someone or something) ready for some activity, purpose, use, etc.
: to make yourself ready for something that you will be doing, something that you expect to happen, etc.
: to make or create (something) so that it is ready for use
I spent part of our first afternoon in the Snapdragon room just lying on my back atop the Matelasse bedspread. It had taken some effort to heave myself up onto the raised antique four-poster bed. I made a note to myself that nighttime trips to the bathroom could be treacherous.
I lay there with my eyes closed taking deep breaths like I was meditating. Only I wasn’t. I wasn’t doing anything so intentional. I actually was just breathing in and out. Somewhat slowly. Trying to release some of the tension that had built during the week of preparing for this trip. I thought of a quote I had read during the week of the importance of quiet, but I hadn’t had time to write it down. So I thought of a simplified version: without quiet, I might self-destruct.
Steve and I hatched the idea for this very simple vacation sometime last Spring about the time we were making plans for a larger more involved trip to California with the boys. That vacation included airports and rental cars and researched boat trips around Alcatraz. That vacation involved restaurants suitable for five people of different ages and tastes. It required agendas and copies of birth certificates.
“Maybe we could go to the beach sometime just the two of us,” I said, years of dreaming of a beach vacation bubbling up in heart. “It would be nothing but eat-breakfast, lie-on-the-beach, eat-lunch, take-a-nap-on-the-beach, eat-dinner, take-a-walk-on-the-beach.” Steve likes water, and he loves me. So he was open.
We talked about Maine or North Carolina or Florida or Alabama. “What’s the shortest distance between here and an ocean?” I asked, so we pulled up Google maps and plotted out routes.
But while we were dreaming of waves lapping gently on our feet, summer happened. That California vacation came and went, including a bout of food poisoning for me, and two longs days of travel for the lot of us.
“Maybe we should go somewhere closer,” I suggested. “We need water and a beach but maybe not an ocean.” Since we were looking at two 12-hour drives to get anywhere near salt water, my priorities began to change.
School started, with its back to school nights and occasional homework requirements, plus cross country practice and choir fundraisers, and suddenly, late August was upon us. We still didn’t have reservations for our beach vacation, wherever it was going to be.
Once our travel priorities shifted, we gave serious consideration to western Michigan and its long shore of beaches. “South Haven is nice,” some friends suggested, so we did some searching and ended up at Yelton Manor Bed and Breakfast. A short three-hour drive, unless you take the scenic route. Even then, it was only about five hours, including a delicious late breakfast at Oak Grove Restaurant in a little Indiana town called Star City.
The weather was a little chilly to implement my beach-centered agenda, but still. We rested, we played Yahtzee, we read, we ate, we walked, we skipped rocks, we got our feet wet on beach walks. When the mercury slipped above 75, we both submerged ourselves in the 63 degree lake water once, though Steve said mine didn’t count because I didn’t get my hair wet. One night, I slept 12 hours straight, except, of course, for a couple of daring trips to the bathroom off that raised four-poster bed.
More than once, I found myself lying motionless on that Matelasse bedspread just breathing quietly. I had the strange sense this was a time to prepare myself for something, though for what, I wasn’t sure.
We arrived home with souvenir t-shirts for the boys and bags full of produce from the South Haven Farmers Market. We went straight from low-key B&B living to a cross country meet, grocery shopping, and weekend plans that included a Purdue Football game for the guys and a wedding and workshop for me.
Plans changed. As I crammed my body across three chairs for a fitful night in a hospital waiting room the night after we got home from South Haven, I began to piece things together. At first, I thought that all the vacation rest and relaxation had been for nothing. Within one day, I was back to being a ball of nerves, the muscles in my back and shoulders knotted up tightly, my stomach upset from the stress. “So much for vacation,” I thought.
Yesterday, though, as things began to calm back down and the family member who had been hospitalized was doing better and resting at home now, I remembered the 12-hours of sleep and the afternoon naps and the walks along the beach. They weren’t wasted. They were preparing me.
The quiet had filled me up so I could keep going.
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Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.