After a long, lovely week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I'm back home. Crossing the state line back in to Jersey felt good, as it always does after a trip. Home is, after all, home. This was the yearly big family vacation, spent with my mom and dad, sisters and brother, and their families. You can imagine what 20 souls living together feels and sounds like; in the moment, it can be chaotic, overwhelming, exciting, and loud. Very loud. Now that it's over, I feel a little no sé qué. I miss having mi gente right there, close.
We were lounging in our beach chairs, enjoying our last day by the ocean, watching the kids play, thinking about the long drive back. I was also internally stressing over all the things I had to do when I got home, the back-to-school clothes shopping, appointments, the loads of laundry, setting up my classroom, the diet I need to start, and the work I need to complete before the first day of school, when a scraggly old guy walked by and paused near us. I waved to him, he waved back. He inched closer, and said something to my brother-in-law, who immediately engaged him with a "How you doin'?" The guy replied simply, "Another day in paradise!" and walked on his way, stopping every now and then to take a picture of a sand crab, a sandpiper, a crashing wave, the rubble of a sand castle.
Thank you, scraggly guy with the bandanna and camera, for reminding me how lucky I was to enjoy a week with the people I love most in the world. Thank you for reminding me that our kids are growing up fast and that they are, still, kids. Thank you for reminding me that moments like these are becoming less frequent, when we can all be together, all of us in one place. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful. Thank you for reminding me that it was indeed, paradise.