Despite waking up before sunrise in an abandoned campground, I was surprised to find earlier visitors to the beach in the morning. I arrived to do penance, right after a pair of religious joggers in spandex habits, and a lone fisherwoman who buried her pole in the wet sand and gazed out at the horizon, her gaze awaiting the sun like a wife who stands on the porch after a war, waiting for her husband's return.
We had only left Culebra the day prior, but I longed for it already. The rhythm of the day here seemed a little more forced; a little less relaxed. I hadn't found the rest I came for. But as daylight grew, families arrived and set out their blankets and towels; the surf was low so children played freely without the looming threat of undertow; mothers and fathers lazed under the sun and broke into their iceboxes for snacks.
I stretched my hammock out between two palm trees—typically idyllic for a tropical island, I figured—and read Vonnegut's Armageddon in Retrospect straight through. Biting prose pressed hard against the peace I was trying to find. Passages from the book of Ecclesiastes dripped into my consciousness:
The sun rises, and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rises…All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
The story of me is nothing more than a grain of sand in a ballad about a beach. And in that thought, I think, there was release. There was, in a tiny way, some rest.