I sent a text to a friend visiting Tybee Island suggesting that her children might enjoy the lighthouse.
My dad would have gone to the lighthouse. Paid the donation and climbed to the observation catwalk with my sister and I in tow. Something to do. Dear dad always looked for something to do with us.
Me personally? Lighthouses are pretty images associated with the sea. I’d never diss a lighthouse. Jellyfish aren’t my favorite things either but I’d never talk smack bout a jelly for it hath sprung from the sea.
I’d never given much thought to them. Lighthouses, that is. Not like it is 1889 and I’m a crusty seafarer guiding my ship through the ink of night and don’t want to splinter the hull of my lady, shattering my livelihood and life.
A friend once told me she collected lighthouses. I think of her every time I’m in a gift shop selling coastal trinkets. I see a mini lighthouse on a shelf. My hand hovers over it for a moment — should I buy this and send it to my friend — only to walk away dismissing the notion because surely one reaches a point in life when you say, “Enough” to the number of lighthouses scattered about your living room.
Lighthouses are for people who . . . I don’t know? People who are moved by them. The tall cylinder. The beacon. The rocks. The spectacular ocean spray.
Me not so enchanted. I’m bent toward dear sea turtles laying eggs deep in a trough they spent half the night digging.
Or surfing. An athletic skill with a board. If you mastered surfing — now that would be something.
I would never be a person putting a lighthouse sticker on their car.
Except I did.
What can I say? It was a winter day at the beach. The kids stared at their phones. Anything would be better to me than watching them silently scroll through their phones all day. I entertained thoughts of walking to the lighthouse.
Being a holiday week and not warm enough to spend much time by the water, there would be lots people to mingle with. Then we would have to climb. We would climb round and round surrounded in stereo with echos of chattering people and their excitement to be climbing a lighthouse.
Lighthouse People with whom I have nothing in common.
But as much as I never entertained the idea of climbing a lighthouse, I refused to be holed up with kids and watch their ability to run and jump and speak to each other in complete sentences atrophy before my eyes.
So we walked to the lighthouse. An exhibition of sorts. That made the whole going to spend-an-hour-at-a-lighthouse more palatable.
Two hours later after a winding trip to the top, something in me changed.
Now when I walk through a hedge of sea brush and look up to see the lighthouse a quarter of a mile away, my heart lifts. Upon seeing the black and white sentinel, it’s as if carnival midway worker shoved a tube attached to hydrogen tank into my heart and gave it a squeeze.
My heart plumps up. Buoyed. Floating. Breaking free from a doldrums sea.
There she is. I love her.
What changed in the electrical charges haphazardly firing in my brain? Maybe finding out that the light itself is just a regular bulb. Like the one you’d screw into a bedside lamp to read. A huge magnifying glass does all the work.
Maybe remembering the winding metal stairs and the sighing brick walls that have stood there. Silently. For so long.
Maybe I identify with the lighthouse keeper. The one waiting at the shore with the light. Climbing the steps to light the light. Stable through fog and storms so fierce the first two Tybee Lights washed away. Till someone got the bright idea maybe we should build this next one in a different spot? Hope she got a raise.
Not sure if I’m an official Lighthouse Person. Not ready to commit to traipsing up the coastlines clamoring up the insides of any old beacon.
I’m pretty monogamous with my lighthouses I’m guessing.
I wonder if they still need a keeper?
Just my luck to find the perfect career a 100 years too late.