Today, I had a sea kelp soak in a hydrotherapy basin. Which I followed with a full body exfoliation of sea mineral element scrub, completed with heliotherapy culminating in Vitamin D synthesis. For free. In other words, we went to the beach this morning. Before you get too jealous of this description or the fact that yes, we got to go to the beach on a Monday, let’s look behind that Instagram filter, behind the hashtag blessed of it all, shall we?
To begin, you should know that I love the beach. Unconditionally so. Rain or shine, hurricane-churned or smooth as glass, I absolutely love the beach. I have heard people (from Ohio for example) say the beach is “just so messy”, that sand “seems like dirt”. A piece of me was forever changed by knowing there are thinkers like that in the world. I didn’t know how to talk to that person following that declaration. When as far as you can see everything is awash with broken bits of beautiful things; shells, corals and unearthed treasures, in my opinion, you are in a most sacred of spaces. And the ocean? It’s nothing short of a baptismal for the willing, full of terrifying potential.
The life metaphors are all present at the beach. When you are at the top, there is so much noise, so much to see and you are seen so easily, movement on top of movement. At the bottom it is quiet; someone has to really want you to go after you there. It’s always working on you, shaping and chipping away at you until it leaves you transparent, motives and battle scars easily visible. It will lay you out; it will take your breath away. One of my favorite quotes distills it to this; “To some it’s saltwater, to others it’s holy water”. I am others…
Seeing as though I am on the verge of writing bad poetry for it, (that is how much I love it there) I need to share my experience of it today. We live about 40 minutes from the beach. I should point out that we live on a peninsula. Yet, there is no straight shot to the ocean. Painful as that was before we had kids (both of whom are totally down to get schooled by the force of ocean waves, both of whom are swimmers), it feels like light years away when they are restrained by car seats and seatbelts, effectively captive. For the record, my husband and I both wear seatbelts too, but we are used to the commute. Actually, scratch that, he will never accept the commute and I am putting him in the “untamed heart, you are oppressing me” kid category. But I am already getting ahead of myself by placing us in the car, first you have to survive two things.
One: making the commitment to go to the beach. This is no joke nor is it a small feat. We are rarely all in the same place for the same 24 hour period in this family. How we spend our time is a delicate balance of needs, wants and conditions, one that has an invisible, unspoken points system. If the adults are in the same spot at the same time it is a struggle of what we really should do versus if today was the last day on Earth what we would be doing… “The yard really needs to be cut” v “I haven’t been to the beach in so long. It is calling me home”. Or, “The printer needs ink, why did we buy one that can only use refills from Office Max” v “I need a day to read magazines, they are piling up and staring at me funny”. (I will leave it to you to figure out who is who in those scenarios)…
Two: Getting ready to go to the beach. When I met my husband he was nineteen. He was a student and a surfer and he detailed cars to make money. He drove a crest-toothpaste blue Chevy Camaro (he would tell you it’s actual name, maybe metallic flake blue? but if you were a kid in the 80’s and you remember the bubble gum flavored toothpaste of that time, you have an accurate visual) that had super dark tinted windows and exhaust pipes that sounded like “wub-wub-wub-wub-wub-wub” which I am confident he paid extra for. To go to the beach in that time he packed two things: a surfboard in a sock (this is a soft cover that keeps the board from getting dented and keeps surf wax from getting all over surfaces, which he used double duty as a towel) and a gallon of water, in its plastic jug (because we didn’t realize that the BPA leached into the water and was slowly killing us at that time). Fast forward 17 years to today where he packed one longboard (so he could take the kids out on it, should the opportunity present itself), two boogie boards, a skim board (in the event there was nothing to surf but the lapping surface of waves), four beach towels, changes of clothes for the kids, a snack for the car ride, four ice waters (in aluminum double walled containers so they stay cold and don’t poison us), sunscreen, a wallet, a cell phone and sunglasses. He then secured these items in and out of the truck with determination and series of bungee cords so they wouldn’t move around. I should mention here that when he bought his truck last year there was careful consideration for bed volume to determine the best fit for our family and the various activities we enjoy (that nineteen year old, he threw his board in the Camaro through the hatchback, so that it effectively divided the entire car). In my defense I was very busy determining if I should embrace my inner Rihanna (aren’t we all?) or my inner Gwyneth Paltrow on vacation (same) via beachwear while letting the dog out to potty and encouraging the kids to “Please go pee right now, there are NO BATHROOMS where we are headed”!!! We all have our roles.
In the end, we went. The kids boogie-boarded and I failed miserably at skim boarding (there is running, there is foot placement, there is falling and scraping knees and elbows). My husband hurt his back in some triple axel type trick (ah, to be nineteen again) and I missed a few spots with the sunscreen on Big Sister’s face, but we all tried our best. Despite the obstacles, despite the mess (yes there were showers and yet there is a ton of sand everywhere), we are united in always attempting the impossible.
Everyone else is napping right now so I am writing with no guilt and truth be told a glass of White Zin in the middle of the afternoon, so I can’t complain. My skin is smooth and my heart is full. It was a good day with people who I love even more than the ocean. P.S. the sea-kelp soak was a ton of seaweed churned up in the waves; hopefully I don’t have sea-lice, but if I do, it was still worth it, #blessed.