Sometimes when I look back at my life, certain times strike me as profoundly significant. Time and distance allows for this perspective although the memory is seen through a flowing gossamer curtain.
So it is with life and ironically, so it is with the writing of it.
I’ve thought about one particular night with a curiosity that won’t allow me to let it go.
I wonder if the final writing of the words will somehow change my point of view.
It was many years ago, if I were to hazard a guess I’d say 40 years.
We were staying in a beach house on the shores of Cape Cod Bay.
Never having stayed right on the beach, I was fascinated by the sheer mystery of it.
It was a modest house, a glorified camp actually, adorned with more cliché knickknacks associated with the Cape than you could ever possibly dream about.
There were signature clam shell ashtrays on every table, barnacled frames on pictures and a sign in the bathroom that read: In the land of sun and fun, we never flush for number one!
A steady sea breeze crept its way through every open window subtly scenting the entire house with a moist brackish tinge.
I don’t remember much of the vacation itself but I vividly recall the night of the storm.
I was roused from a deep sleep by a thwack of thunder and a shimmer of light.
Jumping from my bed, I headed towards the screened-in front porch that looked out over the bay.
Sitting in the front window was my mother.
She loved storms and in her way taught me to love their awesome beauty.
She saw me standing in the doorway and motioned for me to sit.
After a few minutes she said, “It’s beautiful. Isn’t it?”
In the dark of the porch I could see she was smiling.
I said, “Yeah,” as I watched the wide expanse of the beach light up like someone was flipping a light switch.
There was a clap of thunder and the skies lit up as I saw a lone seagull flying underneath the bruised thunderheads; fearless, I thought.
It was only seconds later that I noticed a second gull appear out of nowhere.
We watched the storm in silence, my mom and I, trapped in our own thoughts.
I thought about my twin sister sleeping soundly a few rooms away and had an epiphany of sorts. The storm seemed an apt and epic metaphor to our birth and subsequent adoption.
I’ve never told her about the storm but I think she’ll understand where it is that I’m calling from.
Like the two gulls I saw nearly 40 years ago, my sister and I have since flown through many a storm.
It seems somewhat bittersweet that my mom was teaching me about life even then.
And I think I now have a better understanding as to why she so loved storms.