By Cherimie Crane
Scribbled on notepads, tucked in tablets, drafted in unsent emails are stories some of great significance, some of little importance, and many incomplete thoughts. Descriptive paragraphs about the way the moonlight dances across the Beaufort River like thousands of tiny ballerinas create chapter after chapter written by the solitude of streetlight. Sentimental sentences explain how the wrinkles in my Pappaw’s face weave and fade as he speaks of the good ole’ days. Timeless truths intertwined in experience tell about the scent of vanilla that remains long after momma wipes away a tear.
I have memorialized moments, celebrated situations that most may overlook. I’ve laughed my way through life lessons, long days and many a lapse in logic. With wine glass in hand and computer in lap, my thoughts ramble on with little direction and with even less restraint. Bravery comes easy as honesty, conviction and vulnerability tap dance in sync along my keyboard. Often I forget my words will be unprotected once printed for public ponder. It is easy to unveil in the absence of judgement.
Few occasions show human nature, soul simplicity, and the basic being that allow a peak through the window of the unbridled original. One of those rare wrinkles in time belongs to none other than the Beaufort Water Festival. If you doubt the potential of pure personality, or the power of true colors, pack up your pessimism, sit back and absorb the enigma that is Water Festival.
Watch stress-drained men trade in the business suits for the lighter weight of board shorts, well-meaning moms trade in fabric stitched in obligation and patterned in responsibility for skin-baring bikinis that replace years with youth and vitality. Even if just for a few hours, maybe even a few days, the shrimper, the crabber, the lawyer and the preacher become simply Beaufortonians. The shackles of roles and responsibility merge into rivers of freedom and folly. Greetings change from rote “How are you?” to an enthusiastic “Happy Water Festival!”
Time clocks and time sheets become a bit more forgiving. Differences disperse as the winds of well-wishes blow forth. Blue collar, white collar inevitably becomes no collar as Water Festival is the great equalizer.
A couple in their sixties will shag under the stars toe to toe with a pair at sixteen. Long love, new love, renewed love finds itself along the water’s edge. Visitors question their own way of life as they observe with envy the sweet, slow summer nights that lead to warm mornings full of events and celebration that showcase that which can’t be simulated, only experienced.
Land-locked laments fade as toes and woes submerge in saltwater and sand. Focus on troubles take second to focus on tides. Desk chairs empty and deck chairs fill. Quiet souls who hide behind societal norms unite on the sandbar to shine like polished pennies. Monday morning will come soon enough. There will be plenty of time to excuse away momentary mishaps and questionable quandaries. For now, let your hair down, lift your spirits, ditch the shoes, lose the shirt, tap dance through the day, shag through the night, and douse the day-to-day dread with real life, real moments, real smiles. Unveil your own true colors, capture your own moments, celebrate the life only you can live. Be simple. Be happy. Be real. Be Beaufort! Happy Water Festival.