The Beach

On this gray December morning, I’m thinking about the beach and how content I am to be here on this gray December morning, rather than on a beach on a hot July day. I don’t like the beach. The sand, the sun, the heat, the water, the constant roar of the waves, the humidity, the grit… leave me feeling claustrophobic. The landscape is inescapable. A childhood memory may explain the bad blood between me and the beach. I was 10, I think. My parents drove me and my sister to Chincoteague, which they pronounced chicko tikki. We got there when the sun was setting, headed straight for the water, and jumped waves until it got dark. Feeling gritty in wet bathing suits, we returned to our wood paneled station wagon to drive around looking for a room to stay in. I remember my dad telling us to look for a VACANCY sign. They were all lit up with NO VACANCY signs. That was the night I added VACANCY to my vocabulary. It was late. We were desperate, so my dad drove us to a campsite, where we parked and slept in our wagon. I remember trying to sleep on the passenger seat while mom and my sister slept in the back, where the back seat flattened out into a bed, which made it impossible for the front seats to recline. So, sitting upright, I tried to sleep. It was hot. We kept the windows shut because the mosquitoes were thick. Dad turned on the AC every once in awhile to cool us down. I remember sitting there waiting for dawn, waiting to get back to the waves. Morning came. We returned to the beach. If my parents had known to take care of two things – reservations and sunblock – this vacation, although more comfortable, may not have been as memorable. I burned, burned so badly I couldn’t move the next day. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t frown. All I could do was wait for the hour my skin would be dry and dead enough to pick and peel away.

This past summer, my kids at the ages of 9 and 6 had their first beach experience in Cape May, NJ. I figured it was about time for me to make peace with the place. Reservations were made weeks in advance. Fat tubes of SPF 50 were packed. It’s still not my landscape of choice, but the kids liked it just fine. The vacation was enjoyable and comfortable, but will it be remembered?

Summer of 2011

Published in: on December 6, 2011 at 11:58 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. oh my…your miserable experience deprived your girls of the beach for this long? i hope they ask you to go back every year! i hate the sand, the sun, and the heat, but I look forward to it and can’t wait to feel the water lapping at my feet and see how joyful it makes my children.

    • You’re good like that. But I think my kids would find more joy in the woods.

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