On My Last Day

On Saturday, the last day of my Chincoteague vacation, I woke up at 6AM.

Everything that could be packed was already packed, so I took my unfinished book and read for a while.  My family was planning to meet for breakfast at 8.  I didn't have time for much else.

Then the island called to me.

The island told me I still had time.  I shouldn't spend these precious hours in a hotel room killing those final minutes with a book.  The ocean sang to me.  The sun shone through the trees and sparkled on the water.  They drew my attention away from conventional things like books and my bed.

Time was running out.  It was nearly 6:30 by the time I stopped ignoring the world outside my hotel balcony.  Did I have time for one last adventure?  What if I ended up taking too much time and made my family wait for me?  They might be angry.

What would be worse?  Is a late breakfast a worse tragedy than regretting the time I didn't spend outside on my last day?  I would be spending most of my day sitting in a car.  Shouldn't I take advantage of the little time I had left?  Would anyone blame me?

There was only one answer to those questions.  I told myself I would at least try to make it to the beach.  I promised myself If it grew too late, I would turn around and go back to the hotel. I quickly threw on a bathing suit and some clothes and ran down to the parking lot for my rental bike.  I jumped on and pedaled through the quiet morning streets of town and up over the bridge to Assateague.

I rode through the back trails around the marshes.  I spotted three kinds of egrets, sandpipers, and red-winged black birds. They all dodged out of my way as I pedaled furiously to make it to the beach before I would have to turn back.  Soon I reached the bike beach trail.

I parked my bike and was surprised to see other bikes there on the racks. I was not the only one who felt the need to be at the beach that morning.  I locked up my bike and walked up the path to the shoreline, swatting the mosquitoes that swarmed around my head (not everything in Chincoteague is perfect).

I finally arrived at the water.  Two fishermen were my only company.  One of them was a Mennonite man anachronistically dressed in Hawaiian shorts (the haircuts always give them away).  They both ignored me.

I stripped down and walked to the water's edge.  All week long the water alternated between being dangerously rough, but warm, or calm, but freezing cold.  This day the water was calm and warm.  I walked in for a few feet and let the water splash over my thighs and waited for the right moment to dive in.

Then I looked at my watch.  It was 7:15.  I was supposed to meet my family at 7:45 so we could head over to the restaurant.  I hesitated.  I didn't want to leave the beach.  I wanted to be immersed in the ocean one last time.  Five minutes one way or the other wouldn't hurt, would it?

The practical side of me interrupted.  How long would it take to dry off?  Did I want to pack a wet bathing suit and a wet towel in my suitcase?  If I didn't swim, I would be able to get away without washing my hair.  It was better to turn around.  Hadn't I promised myself I would return to the hotel if I didn't have the time to stay out?

I walked out of the water and got dressed.  I reluctantly walked back to my bike, battling the mosquitoes once more.  I pedaled back to the hotel as fast as I could, trying my best to pay attention to the nature that surrounded me.  I wouldn't see it for another year after all.

I wasn't exactly on time, but nobody was angry that I still needed to change and shower before breakfast and that we were ten minute late in starting our walk to the restaurant.  We got a table.  We enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Bill's.

After breakfast I packed the last of my gear, loaded up the car, and headed home.  Another vacation in Chincoteauge had become a memory.

I know I left on that beach a girl who threw caution to the wind, and dove right into the waves.

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