There was no list of “things to do” for a week. No deadlines. No need to know the time.
One day blended into the next.
I walked the beach every morning, and it was the same but different. Different blues and grays. Different waves churning up treasures. Different dogs chasing balls. Different people walking. Different flowers blooming.
I didn’t turn on TV or read a newspaper or lose myself in a book or talk on my cellphone. I was in the moment — a rarity. I took pictures. I sat on a rock, on the sand, on a wall, on a bench and didn’t think. I just absorbed.
And then it was over. Time to go home. Home to kids and their kids and friends and parties and a summer that’s just begun and this is all good.
But home is work, too, lists, chores, commitments, responsibilities. No more time to sit around and gawk at nature. Nature needs pruning, cutting, watering, feeding. At home there is always something that needs attending.
I thought of reading a newspaper on the flight home. I thought of writing e-mails, making a to-do list, catching up on life. Instead I read, with indolence and appreciation for this last hurrah, an entire month’s worth of People magazines.
I always intend to read People the day it arrives. But I don’t. So the magazines pile up. Or my daughters run off with them. Or they land in the trash.
I had the latest four in my carry-on and I read every one, even taking the time to try to find (I never can) the 10 differences in the “Second Look” pictures.
And this is what I learned: That Jeannette Walls, author of the hugely popular “The Glass Castle,” has written “Half Broke Horses,” a novel based on the life of her grandmother. That Zooey Deschanel (I had to look her up. She stars in: Fox TV’s “New Girl.” Who knew?) is going to play Loretta Lynn in a musical bound for Broadway. That Sissy Spacek, who played Loretta Lynn in the 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” has penned her memoir, “My Extraordinary Life.” That, according to People, the movies “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Avengers” are worth the price of admission.
I learned also that Adam Lambert, who came in second on American Idol’s eighth season, has a new album, “Trespassing,” which People reviewers like better (four stars) than that season’s winner, Kris Allen’s new album, “Thank You Camellia” (three stars). Not that I intend to get either.
That this quote from “Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us” by Rachelle Bergstein is dead on: “Nothing feels like more of a betrayal than a pair of flats that hurt. It’s like eating salad and getting fat.”
That Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, married his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, who is from Braintree, (How did I miss this?) who is a doctor, and who is the reason behind Facebook’s new donor feature.
That there exists in Rushville, Ill., a doctor who works seven days a week, who hasn’t taken a vacation in 57 years, and who charges just $5 a visit. His name is Russell Dohner and he is 87.
That, according to Oprah Winfrey’s Dr. Oz, these are the five things we should all have in our medicine cabinets: Baby aspirin, Omega-3, Vitamin D, multivitamins, and calcium.
That Sadie Jones’s novel “The Uninvited Guests,” about dead people and trains, put me in mind of Stephen King’s scary short story “Willa.”
And that the epidemic of hangings in Bridgend, Wales (in five years, 79 people — most of them between 15 and 30 — have hanged themselves), isn’t a Stephen King story. It’s real life and it’s terrifying. Even the name, Bridgend, Wales, is portentous.
And this is what whiplashed me out of the wonderful land of vacation back to the world of “Isn’t it awful?” Because this is awful. But it’s not the whole picture. I knew this walking along the water’s edge. The challenge now is to remember.