Beach Buckets

Thanks for stopping by. I have a story to tell of recent awakenings and explorations. Please enjoy, and come again.

My grandfather wrote part of a novel that was found underneath his bed or in some partially used bottom drawer. I am not even sure what has become of it now. He died twenty years ago, and all I remember of the aftermath is walking into his apartment to see sticky notes on all of his items. Many of his things were claimed by other relatives before my brother and I had even entered the doorway.

There was one thing, though, that I was allowed to claim. I had one definitive choice – which of his paintings I wanted. It was a no-brainer for me. Immediately, my eyes locked in on the painting of an old family beach house, kept in the family for decades and sold long ago. The house is  now unrecognizable among the more modern homes that have been built over the years, but once, it was a beacon of shabby chicness. You could imagine the woman in her yellow button down, tied loosely but carefully around the waste just by looking at that extravagant porch. She’d be drinking a mint julep, and her butler might be holding the tray next to her. Of course, she’d have her flip-flops on, and her husband would be out crabbing.

Please take no offense to this portrait of mine, dear family. This is just what the painting evokes in me. And I want the reader to see it, too.

There’s much to tell about the beach itself, but that is for another day. The point is: the painting hangs on my husband’s and my bedroom wall now. It never made it to any gallery – or even outside of my grandparents living room, until after they had died. But their houses were always covered in colorful characters Poppy had created or in landscapes of tides, dunes, and marshes.It’s as if my grandfather were tied equally between life’s eccentric people and the soothing calm on the opposite shore. He held them both in his heart, like two competing dreams for his life – a bold, flamboyant existence and one that is as easily noticed as a beach bucket among a row of other beach buckets.

He painted for himself, I suppose, and for his friends and family. With his novel hidden beneath his bed.

I have lived very much like this grand person. But I am risking being pulled into the current a bit more now. I am taking my novel out and passing it around for feedback (so to speak.) I am staging an art show at the local gallery. I am daring to live the bolder, more colorful version of my own life, the one that’s been hiding under the bed. Or at least, sticking my big toe in. (I am afraid of sharks, you know.)

I have many stories that want to be told, and I am going to tell you some of those, either here or out there, somewhere in the world. My stories share many qualities with yours. I know they do.

Come with me on this journey, will you? And check out my recent publication on Sweatpants and Coffee, if you haven’t seen it. Peruse the magazine, too, if you wish.


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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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