I was not a happy child. In retrospect, I’m not sure why. I had good and loving parents. With my grandmother and her eccentric siblings (eccentric here is the Southern euphemism for people close to certifiably crazy), I had a good support team.
But I was not happy.
My parents realized this, and to try to help, they took me to Virginia Beach each summer. We stayed at an old hotel, I think it was called The Breakers. They installed me on the “sleeping porch,” a screened-in porch overlooking the beach (we didn’t have air conditioning in those days). There, all night long, I could hear the pound of waves breaking over the beach, and I would sleep, something that was hard for me.
Even now, I’m not sure what the problem was. It was probably a normal adolescent anxiety, knowing that I would have to go out into the world: Would I do well? Would I make my parents proud? Would I find friends? Someone to love? Experience God and meaning in my life?
Well, I’ve been out in the world for a long time now, and I can check off, or at least half-check, all of those boxes, and I’ve realized that some of them mean more than others.
And when I wake up from fretful sleep, I can look out not at the ocean, but at least the creek that leads out to the river, out to the bay, out to that ocean that once rocked me to sleep.
I feel like I’ve come home.