Note: I’ve liberally peppered Jimmy Buffett songs throughout this post. Yes, I am and have always been a proud Parrothead. The lyrics just always fit, so obviously he understands me.
I have always been a “Beach Girl”. Grew up in a city with “Beach” in the name. As an adult, I’ve lived in Hawaii, California, Florida…well, you get the picture. The first vacation my husband Brian and I took together was to the Bahamas. Matter of fact, aside from that two year stint in Philly, (which, though fun, was NOT my choice), I have never been far from the ocean.
Jolly Mon Sing
Childhood was a constant stream of sandcastles, tidepools, shell collecting, jellyfish stings, crab-bitten toes. Mom extricated me from countless bathing suits full of sand because I insisted on “bodysurfing” like my big brother…and only succeeded in getting bounced all over the break.
High school was heaven for a beach kid. Every school had their own street – or turf, so to speak – and ours was 83rd. High on the North End – the local’s beach, away from the tourists and boardwalk and insane traffic. Huge dunes, wide expanses of sand, catamarans dotting the beach. Entire weekends spent baking in the sun, listening to music, laughing with friends.
We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us About
And drinking, natch. Lots of drinking…
God’s Own Drunk
Those same aforementioned catamarans were great for canoodling under at night…or for burying kegs beneath for the next day. Yes. I have to admit to many deposits in the Bank of Bad Habits of which Mr. Buffett so eloquently sings.
Bank of Bad Habits
Although in my own defense I’ll tell you that no one ever had to sing this one about me. That I know of, anyway…:
Please Take Your Drunken Fifteen Year Old Girlfriend Home
I do know that I did not appreciate that time enough when I had it. Those lazy days surrounded by the sound of surf, the cry of gulls, the gentle caress of sand swirled lightly on a summer wind… I didn’t appreciate the lack of responsibilities that allowed me to spend six hours in this bliss, then shoot home, grab a Mom-cooked meal, shower and head right back down to the beach to hit the bars. Good Lord. What a life.
And I sure as SHIT didn’t appreciate the body I had under that bikini. Back then, I thought I was fat. Now…now that I’ve been formally introduced to fat, allowed it to visit temporarily and am stuck with the guest that never leaves…NOW, I appreciate that flat stomach and the obvious collar bone.
I didn’t appreciate the ability to zip down in my little Toyota Tercel hatchback, float into a little tiny parking spot on a side road and head over the dune with just my beach chair, towel, keys and sunglasses. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE going to be beach with five year old Liam and all of his “accoutrement”. Now we live close enough to eschew the drive and just load all the crap into the little red wagon and walk down, so that’s a plus…but dragging it all over the dune is another story entirely.
So, what’s brought on this sappy morning reminiscence? Well, across the street from us now live a pair of Navy Officers who have evidently become the new “party house” in the neighborhood. They moved in three weeks ago and had been keeping a fairly low profile, but loosened up more and more each weekend. Yesterday evening I noticed a steady stream of khaki uniforms pulling up after five in the evening…then a gaggle of micro-sundress clad bimbos entered en masse, carrying trays of take-out food. Whooping and hollering commenced outside at about 1:00 am, and this morning there were seven – yes, SEVEN cars in the street and driveway.
As I pulled a Gladys Kravitz and kept an eye on the door for the inevitably entertaining walks of shame, I wrote the preceding and wallowed in wistful self-sympathy at the loss of my youth…until I watched them start streaming out.
No, youth isn’t wasted on the young – it’s timed just perfectly. Let them be free and rash and impetuous. Let them sleep until noon and bask in the sun and have no responsibilities for now. It’s their turn, afterall.
As for me – I wouldn’t trade one second of the early morning wake ups, the toy schlepping, the need for constant vigilance near the shore…or the hugs, kisses, contentment and genuine love shared in our family. Sure, lives change, attitudes change…but the beach remains the same.
So later today when the three of us load up the wagon, slap on the sunscreen and walk down to the Bay together, I won’t be missing the old me. She’s still here, she’s grown up, she’s raising a new generation of “Beach Kid”…and she’s really, really happy.
(So is Jimmy. He still gets it.)
A Pirate Looks at Forty
One Particular Harbor
Blue Heaven Rendezvous