This morning, our house is as quiet as a only a house full of sleeping twenty-somethings can be. The wind changed during the night, and it’s blowing in from the sound, piling the water up against our dock and creating whitecaps that make Pamlico Sound look like Something. True, it’s mostly knee-deep, except for the dredged channel and a couple of holes, but this morning, it looks like a body of water that means business.
I love the sound. Sunrises on the ocean are all very well, but you have to get up at the crack of dawn to enjoy them. The evenings are available to everyone. We eat dinner every night with the beautiful view of the red sun dropping into the water. In between times, we can sit on our decks and look at the patterns of seagrass and sand along the bottom. We can kayak up into the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge and stalk egrets and herons. The boats glide silently over hermit crabs, skates, blue crabs, mullet, clams, and the ubiquitous tube worms, filtering their food from the soup.
Today is not a kayaking day, at least not yet. The wind is coming from Swan Quarter, which means it pushes the kayaker back into the shore. We’ve been out there when the whitecaps were breaking over the boat, and while it’s fun, it’s not relaxing. Today belongs to the kiteboarders.
Kiteboarding is not a casual sport. It requires strength, agility, nerves of steel, and a working knowledge of physics, or at least vectors. You can always tell GOOD kitesurfers, because they are able to come back against the wind as fast as they went out with it. We’ve been watching one for an hour and a half, and in that time, he has never dropped the kite, and twice we’ve seen him go at least 50 feet across the sound, 20 feet in the air. It takes amazing nerve to do this in water that’s, at most, a foot deep; it’s not gonna break your fall.
There are 27 of us here together, in two houses. Last night, the other house fried up all the fish they caught on Sunday and had our house over for dinner. Afterward, Chip’s crowd went out to celebrate a birthday, and Sarah pounced on the remaining couples with a question: What was the hardest thing for you to adjust to when you got married?
The next two hours were an education, as the Kilgores, Hodges, Clarks, Downeys, and Hankses talked about marriage, about the things we’ve learned, mistakes we’ve made, and joys we’ve had. I think Sarah got her money’s worth – there were 122 years of experience in that room, and the “newlyweds” have been married 15 years.
It got me to thinking – marriage is a lot like kiteboarding in strong winds and shallow water – exhilarating and scary at the same time. Anybody can be happy in marriage when they’re going out with the wind, where everything’s favorable and easy. The real skill, though, the real “secret” of marriage, is knowing how to come back when thing’s aren’t good, when sorrow, loss, and pain (those inevitable consequences of living), blow through our lives like a gale.
One of my many prayers for Sarah and Jeff, as they begin this adventure together, is that they always find the joy of getting major air in that unexpected place – against the wind.