Memories. I reflect back today on July 4th weekends gone by. Most of them happened on Kiawah. That's my pristine barrier island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. I write about Kiawah a lot on these pages, ten years that remain all of the best of me. There were my daughters growing up. You know them as they frequently appear in my essays here. But there were also the hypnotic ocean waves across tranquil sunsets, a 10,000 year old maritime forest, a bicycle and me winding through every nook and cranny of that island and when from the ages of 44 to 54 I lived my only years that ever counted.
How does one come to such a sweeping, dramatic and sad realization? It wasn't me, it was then. It reaches forward in time to find me, especially on weekends like this. I want to hide in those years and never come out. I think people like that get put away now. But if I could, I would, even if that was the price to pay. That's how precious a decade it was, of love, joy, sweet contemplation, carefree, invincible........and my own.
The army of vacationers would begin their march to the sea around sunset. As the hour or so before it became dark enough for the first flare of fireworks, those on Kiawah came together as a single community of star gazers, in ever increasing anticipation of that first flare of color and boom, when eyes lifted to the dark skies over the Atlantic in a shared 40 minutes of splendor. At the end, we picked up our chairs and blankets and wandered back home. The murmur that preceded the show, returned cloaked in quiet satisfaction that this day was special and would stay in our hearts forever.
And it has. It never once occurred to me back in those days that the memory would ever become so distant. That my years ahead would be filled with such change, turmoil and sadness. That my kids would ever grow up. That I would ever grow this old. If the magic of the universe could embrace just one moment of our lives and freeze it in time perpetuity, never to go forward, never to walk the path that lay ahead, it would be those July 4th walks home on Kiawah. Where everything was as it should be, when everything would stay as it should be, where these were not memories at all, that they would be wiped from our past and instead, just be. Where it all stood still for just one moment. And where I could stay in that one moment and never know another day.