Present

The sun is setting slowly, sinking into the clouds that look like they are sitting right on top of the green blue of the Caribbean.

I take a sip of my wine and watch mostly-old couples stroll hand in hand on the beach. Most of the guests at the resort have gussied up for the evening full of dinner reservations, just as I have.

Most of the good people-watching happens during the day though. Never have I seen such a variety of body types, on full display in skimpy bikinis and shorts. The people who often frequent this type of resort are easy to spot, with their tanned leathery skin freshly oiled and baking on a chair with no umbrella.

I am reminded that we are all destined for saggy skin, that we wrinkle whether we want to or not, and that it’s pointless to fear aging. It will happen to me just as it happens to everyone. I am nearing 30—have I started aging yet? Have I passed my prime and started the steady decline that will be the rest of my life?

Rob reaches for my hand across the table and I turn my attention back to him. We’ve taken this trip to Jamaica just the two of us, leaving the boys with my parents for an entire week. We prioritize time together at home, so it’s not as if we are starving for time alone, but this trip has been something special nonetheless.

I treasure the uninterrupted conversations, the late night cuddles, the new inside jokes. I try to get him to dream with me about our future, but he resists like he always does, so I dream and plan out loud for the both of us to which he acquiesces. I can feel myself falling in love with him, just as I have approximately 137 times before, each time richer and better than the time before.

Over the first few days of the trip, I read Lit by Mary Karr and decide with certainty that she is now among my favorite writers.

Coincidentally, the next two books I read on the beach have to do with dying and, ever easily influenced, it (of course) makes me introspective. The first book is basically an entire eulogy of someone’s husband. It is sad and sweet, beautifully written. I finish it in a day and hold Rob’s hand a little tighter that evening. The other is about a cancer diagnosis and a brush with death and survival, and all that comes with that. It makes me think about the uncertainty of all said future plans and dreams; it makes me ponder when death might claim me and the reality that it one day will. I spend our vacation feeling utterly human, aware of my finitude. Usually I’m too busy to think about it.

We finish dinner and walk back to our room with plans to pack a little since we leave the next morning. Rob tells me he’s ready to be home, back with the boys, and I say the same.

I’ve enjoyed the break. The vacation has been dreamy, exactly what we wanted. But this excitement to be home is a good sign, I tell myself. It means I love my life, my everyday, normal life, and that I wouldn’t want it to look any different than it does.

I guess I want to acknowledge my own happiness and want to give a nod to this contentment, since usually I’m only noticing when it is absent. I want to embrace my life right now, in the throes of young parenting, hand in hand with Rob. I’ve been reminded that we won’t be this age forever, and we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

It is a good life we are returning to. My word for 2022 was “present” and maybe I needed to get away for a while to remember why.

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