Once More Unto the Beach

Last weekend Hannah and I went to the beach. Now I’ve been in Florida all my life, and I’ve been to the beach plenty of times, and I honestly don’t get the appeal. Sure, there’s something relaxing about the sound of the waves. The smell of the salt air can be invigorating. And it’s humbling yet inspiring to look out over the ocean and think that there’s a whole other continent out there somewhere.

Then a volleyball flies over and hits you in the head.

Okay, I didn’t actually get hit by a flying piece of sporting equipment, but we were close enough to the volleyball nets for it to be a constant possibility. These people weren’t kidding around.

Plus, no matter how careful you are and how well you spread the blanket and how delicately you set yourself down in your beach chair, you’re going to be covered in sand about ten seconds after you arrive. It’s inevitable. And you can shake, rinse and scrub all you want, you’ll be finding the stuff for days after you get back. You’ll reach into a pocket for some change — sand. You’ll put on a pair of sandals — sand. The doctor will cut you open for your bypass surgery — sand.

And on this particular day, a nice convenient thunderstorm rolled through after we’d been there for about an hour. It wasn’t like you couldn’t see the clouds rolling in from the west for a while, but it took a bolt of lightning actually hitting the water and the loudest peal of thunder I’ve ever heard to actually convince us it might be time to head for cover. So began the most panicked debarkation since Dunkirk. We were madly folding chairs, folding the umbrella, packing up everything we’d carefully set out, and madly dashing for the car before Katrina hit. Barely made it in time, and it was on the way to the car that I noticed what was to be our salvation for the rest of our time there — the covered bar overlooking the beach.

Now this, this is how I can handle the ocean. I can see, hear and smell it, I just don’t have to interact with it. My feet are on a paved surface. I’m out of the sun. And there’s a readily accessible source of alcohol.

Which I won’t be finding in my shoes two weeks later.

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