Time for a quickie, my friends. Need to hop in the shower and get myself to the beach.
And I guess that's what we'll touch on today....
I get to the beach ridiculously early according to my friends. I like to shoot for 8:30 am on major beach holidays (such as today) or by 9:30ish on regular days. My two favorite times on the beach are really early when no one is around and early evening around 6 pm when it's cooled off and I'm spent from a great day. As a child that's when I would finally come out of the ocean and collapse on our blanket (usually provided without knowledge by our local hospital, thanks to Dad's EMT work...). Mom or Dad would cover me up with a towel and I would crash, hard. One of my all time favorite things is falling asleep on the beach when it has cooled off. Thanks to my doggie duty, [yeah, I said it!] if I get to the beach really early, I can't stay through early evening. So, nowadays I usually have to pick and I pick morning...
It's been over 25 years since my parents and I would vacation for two weeks every August in Lavallette, NJ. And yet I'm still in love with that time period and those memories as if they happened yesterday. I won't go into my full love affair with Lavallette right now, but I'll just touch on it for a sec.
Even though it's been so long and even though I've been to the beach hundreds of times since our last family trip down the shore, I still think about it each and every morning on the beach. It's quiet, I'm alone, and my thoughts always return to the end of President Ave. I remember what my parents looked like, our chairs, our umbrella (always home base as I drifted endlessly in the ocean), our blanket. I remember the older couple who carried their daughter with cerebral palsy out to the beach each day. They would carry her into the ocean and I know they were sustained by the look of sheer joy on her face each and every time, as if it was her first. I remember my beach house neighbor and friend Kelly Oakley and her grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Day. And that odd goiter looking thing on Grandpa Day's neck... (The things kids notice and remember!) I remember sleeping on their screened-in front porch and being washed over by the sea breeze, the smell of the ocean, and the sound of the waves.
I remember us not having a television or phone for two weeks and not really minding. I remember friends and family coming to visit and bringing us news from home -- how the Somerset Rec burned down or Rock Hudson's death (yes, these are the two "biggies" that I remember). I remember thinking it was strange that my cousins and their father would stay in the same bungalow -- my bungalow -- at a different time every summer.
And I remember that those two weeks out of the year, my father cut me some slack. He was happy, mom was happy, and as a result, I was happy. I remember getting up early in the morning and walking to Martin's Drug Store with Dad to get the daily paper. Walking on the painted lines in the street because they were cooler than the asphalt. Going into Martin's without shoes!! And that everyone was happy. The beach made people friendlier and less isolated and reserved. To me, it was a magical place.
After getting the paper, Dad and I would take long walks on the boardwalk. Unfortunately, I don't really remember much of what we discussed, but I remember being there with him. And how much I loved those times.
And so, that's what I think about on quiet mornings at the beach. It never ceases to transport me back to my past, to my family. I'm thankful I still have my mother and I miss my father desperately. But thanks to the beach, I can summon him up and spend some more time with him. The waves come and go, the sand comes and goes, but the love and peace I find at the beach is constant.
Now where the heck did I put my sunscreen? I've got to get to the beach!