Going to Aransas Pass, Texas for the weekend is like taking a weekend-long yoga class. It will test you both mentally and physically, but in the end, you’ll leave refreshed and renewed.
Aransas Pass is part of a cluster of small coastal towns about 20 minutes outside of Corpus Christi, TX. Aransas Pass was once a booming shrimping town, but these days it’s a popular fishing spot. A place to stop when passing through. Folks are usually headed to the more popular Tourist Spot, Port Aransas.
Nowhere to go, nowhere to be, my yoga instructor whispers.
The breeze in Aransas Pass agrees. The air here is damp and salty. It’s pervasive, like huffing saline spray. It sticks to hair and skin like cigarette smoke.
My father in law lives in a refurbished bookshop on one of the town’s main drags. Out of this two-story building, he runs a thriving kayak rental and fishing tour business.
The building presents a strange mix of domesticity and commerce. The crab-grassed backyard has a plastic playhouse for his young son. A grill. Two outdoor showers and bathrooms. The wooden fences are lined with kayaks. On any given morning, I could take a shower in one of the bathrooms, and walk out to a gathering of eager strangers clad in Patagonia shorts, Reefs, and designer sunglasses.
The backyard gatherings happen to be my father-in-law’s pre-kayak tour orientations. As life jackets are passed around and fitted, my father-in-law will explain the dangers of the waters. And that he might yell at you during the tour. It’s for your safety, he assures. Don’t be offended.
When we visit, my husband usually helps with the business. Something he’s done most every summer since he was in high school. From morning to mid-afternoon, my husband could be found hoisting plastic kayaks onto the trailer for delivery or rinsing off used kayaks and life jackets post-tour.
It’s during that time I’m asked to wait. And wait, I do. It’s not unlike chair pose. Except less painful.
Go lower, deeper into the pose, the instructor coos as I clench my teeth.
Certainly, I could help with the business. But I think I still seem like a guest. That’s what Nick’s oldest sister explained to me one late morning as we drove to deliver a couple extra paddles to one of the kayak landings.
So, I wait.
Focus on breath, the instructor reminds me.
Sometimes it feels like a hunger strike. Nick’s folks in Aransas don’t eat on a regular schedule. Sometimes it’s 4 pm before Nick gets a lunch break and he drives me into nearby Rockport for lunch. It could be 10 pm before we fire up the grill for an evening cookout. When it’s finally time to eat, I tear into my food with a veracity of a hungry teenage boy. Everything–even burnt chicken or a cheap granola bar–tastes better.
Tree pose; Focus your Drishti, your yogi gaze to something that is not moving.
There’s no television in the part of the house that Nick and I usually stay. So, I spend most of the morning lounging around, playing with my phone or reading a book. I’ll lay in my pajamas until 11 or 12. Then I’ll take a ridiculously long shower. This is what I call stalling until lunch. The kayak shop is literally sandwiched between a convenience store and nail salon. I know that if I get desperate, I can walk next door and buy some hot Cheetos. Oh, the glory of living in a commercial area. As one of our visiting friends once remarked after making his third visit to the store, remarked, “It’s just so…convenient.” Indeed.
But here’s the thing. There really isn’t much to do here. There aren’t shopping malls or even a Starbucks within 15 miles. Just nature. On the road that leads to the highway, there’s a small drive-thru coffee shop. The orange hut that houses the coffeeshop is about the size of a storage shed and aptly named “The Addiction.” They know their demographic. Folks who want to slow down and relax but then the caffeine addiction calls. They answer that call in the form of flavored iced coffees and smoothies. Surrounded by so little, The Addiction feels like a precious miracle from heaven in a way that a strip mall Starbucks never could.
You have the basics, in Aransas Pass. There’s an HEB (praise the Lord!) and caffeine. You have everything you need. No more. No less. And there is something overwhelmingly calming about that.
At night, you can sit on a patio chair and relax or you can sit on the other patio chair and relax. Aransas Pass doesn’t make you choose between chaos or calm. Calm is what you get. The demands of your life are dimmed here. You don’t bring paperwork to Aransas Pass. You don’t bring ideas or plans. Just like you don’t bring a cell phone to the yoga mat.
When you get home to San Antonio, it’s even better that you remember it.