Recently, as I was looking through some photos, I found pictures from a trip to the Oregon coast we took last August. The photo of Orlis at the top of this post caught my eye. I remembered publishing the beach diaries shortly thereafter, and moreover, I remember those moments on the beach, snapping away at the beautiful landscape as my little almost-2-year-old ran along the beach, giggling. I remember the chill in the air and that his too-big pants started to gather large amounts of wet sand at the cuffs, the weight of which was dragging him down. I remember holding the simultaneous thoughts of he’s so big, and he’s so little, and wondering which of those thoughts felt most true to me. I know those moments in the mist and the wind undoubtedly brought some tears to my eyes, as the beauty of the beach so often does. There are truths revealed on the coast that are almost overwhelming in their clarity.
Without thinking, I snapped a similar photo during our vacation at the coast a couple of weeks ago — almost exactly a year later than the original photo. There I was (this time, with a new baby asleep on my chest), snapping away, while my almost-3-year-old ran along the beach, giggling. Same coast, same beautiful landscape, same chill in the air, and ha! same sweatshirt on this boy. It’s a little smaller on him, but not much, actually. You only really notice it in where the sleeves fall. I noticed, in comparing the photos, that this year his feet are in the water when he’s running — just an inch or less, but the water instead of the sand. I notice a confidence, certainly a briskness in his stride, and a determined look on his face that, now that I see it, I recognize has replaced his wide-eyed naivete. I know that gaze. I see, too, that he’s shucked his pants in favor of bare legs for a fuller submersion in, not only the water, but the full experience. And I’m struck, with all that I see in these two photos of this dear, sweet boy how many ways there are to grow. He fits into his old clothes, sure, and into his old habits too. And yet, time passes and as his arms curl up into a running position and his legs take a stronger, braver stance in the world, I marvel at how little I have to do with any of it, and what a privilege it is to witness. Against any landscape, we do come into our own.