Waves lapped peacefully onto the beach sparkling the dark shimmer of Caribbean light fading purposeful into the night. The sun hadn’t set yet, but it was purposefully on its steep descent holding vainly to day with hopeful flickers of its brilliance only visible in the surrounding wisps; they were a tired lavender, a burnt orange, and a quiet but angry red.
This sun is setting on my marriage.
I sat with my toes in the sand with my hand atop an uninterested companion’s. As always, she was more taken with the environment of our romance than the actual romance or the subject of said affection itself. She had just pointed out a crab burrowing up from its home nearby and was watching him intently for the 20th time to come up out of his hole.
There is a difference between childish wonder and looking for something to distract you from facing reality. Those who understand the difference recognize the latter with annoyed disdain. Those without understanding miss their childishness.
“I need to talk to you about this”. The crab that had just surfaced, darted back into his damp shelter at the sound of my even tone.
“Why do we HAVE to talk about it during the last sunset of our trip?” because it’s important that we also acknowledge what else is ending. “Can’t you just enjoy the moment?” I always thought that moments were about the people around you who were sharing them, not literally everything but.
Wish I could show you now. Show you how deeply and unhappily you’ll learn…Why must we only learn from pain? Is there any other way? The crab darted out for a crumb. Out and in again back to its dark hole in the ground.
“Ok.” A soft whisper of breeze from the ocean joined my internal sigh while I gazed upon the paradise before me.
Lush green forests covering and cresting the island mountains that rimmed the bay. Quaint fishing vessels with dreamy captains floated lazy and essential just off the ports of the small village they called home. Such promise of a life worth having among the tropical mountain palms and serene ships. Just out of reach it seems. Always moving toward it and it always moves away. Like a ghostly crustacean you’ll never catch though you get many glimpses.
Deep in consideration of the weight of the irony, war and peace. Paradise and the hell of inner turmoil. My insides shown on my face.
“God, can you at least LOOK like you’re happy to be with your wife on the beach at sunset. People are going to think you hate me.”
That’s right, picture perfect. Only in an art gallery is what’s in the frame the finished product. Photographs are only as good as the stories they tell. The vast pasts that made a story worth telling. And the eyes of a bright future to give value to the memory of a moment.
Snippets of the moment. That’s what my ‘wife’ wants. Your perfect picture would barely take up one page in ten thousand of the epic that is my book of life. How very sad to only skim through the pictures and miss the story. God would be ashamed.
The crab must’ve caught my disgust. Like a fleeting hope that would rather hide in gloom than be exposed. He didn’t come back.
I used to read the last page of a book first to understand if it was a book worth reading. I’ve glanced at final page. It’s a good book, though I don’t know how it gets to the ending: Strangely, you’re not mentioned.
I reach over, feign a smile, and hold her hand. “It really is beautiful out here.”
Beauty, like life, is beautiful because it does not last forever. All flowers fade, butterflies die, mountains crumble, and thunderstorms breathe their last mighty breath. Elegant existence in the face of no other purpose than to exist. The eminent end of its duration seems to make beauty even more powerful.
My eyes are wet.
She thinks I am caught up in this moment for her. “AWWWW”. A Smile. A Kiss. She doesn’t know it is the last.
In the distance a galleon appears. Majestic with its full array of sails, it poses against the dimly lit backdrop. Picture perfect lighting. “Look at THAT!” She gets her masterpiece: A silhouette portrait of man’s ever-adventurous spirit carried on the breeze over choppy seas. I know she won’t see that but still wonder at the sadness of missing out on such stories while snapping so many pictures.
The sun sets.
The light disappears behind the crystal water.
The scurrying crab, the dreamy fishermen, the tropical mountains, and my pondering tears are gone.
And in the darkness, like an unanchored frigate swift among the shadows, my heart finally moves on.