Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pretty water, warm sun, I'm an idiot.

I know I act like an idiot all the time. This is not news.

But today, Oh! I really made it happen for myself.

It all started with a trip to the beach.
It sounded so sweet. So simple. So lovely. So relaxing.

But here's the thing with me and the beach.
There is sand. It is everywhere. And it feels so good. And then, it sticks. And clings. And sticks and clings and gets in stuff and there must be a shower for it's removal. And a bathroom. There has to be a bathroom in case I have to go. To it. (the bathroom) So, running water is a must.
And the sun. Oh, it is so warm. And also, hot. And burny. And hard to get away from. (Much like the sand, remarkably.) The umbrella really doesn't offer much protection, now, does it. From the hot, hot burning sun. With a daughter who's skin is the perfect peaches and cream little pink-cheeked irish rosy freckled fair, the sun is my enemy.
And there is the water. So blue and sparkling. And also, wet. And wavy. And slightly scary with the currents and the wildlife and sharp rocks and coral and stuff I can't see and people might be peeing in it you never can tell with people. And the fish are definitely peeing in it.

So basically, I go to the beach for an hour or two, but only if it has a shower and a bathroom, and trees for shade, and I can sit and admire the water, carefully staying on my towel.


Today was not that. The kids were going on a field trip, and the whole day was being spent at the beach. They rotated through 4 stations, writing poetry and painting with watercolors and doing a science project and cleaning up the beach in honor of Earth Day.

I was not prepared - mentally or in any other way - for a day at the beach.

I did not sleep the night before, not because I was so excited about our beach day, but because frequently I do not sleep.

I spent the hours between 6:30 and 8:30am trying to find a suite that sleeps 8 for a bachelor party next weekend.

(Don't ask.)

At 8:30, I glanced at the clock, realized what time it was, leaped out of bed, pulled on a bathing suit, brushed my teeth and rushed to the kitchen, frantically pulling food out of the fridge and the pantry as I went. I belatedly tried to locate the cooler I had promised to bring, while responding to texts and reminding the kids to pack their water bottles.

The cooler was located in a dusty corner of the porch, covered in cobwebs.

I dragged it out and wiped it off and loaded it up, then hauled it down the stairs to the car. The gate slammed shut behind me, causing me to jump and almost fall face first down the stairs.
*bam* (flinch)

I ran back up the stairs and shoved the gate open
*bam* (flinch)

I located beach towels and a smaller cooler for our lunches and packed up that stuff, and dragged it down to the car.
*bam* (flinch)

I ran back up the stairs.
*bam* (flinch)

I grabbed my wallet, my sunglasses, a bottle of water and my cellphone charger, and desperately shoved it all into a tote bag as I raced back down the stairs
*bam* (flinch)

I hopped in the car, slammed my door, and reached for the keys - which were, I remembered belatedly, on the kitchen counter. With my phone.

I ran back up the stairs
*bam* (flinch)

Good thing I went back - the door was still wide open (sigh)
*bam* (flinch)

And as we took off like a shot, over the speed bumps and down the mountain to the sea, I had a list running through my head. Press Release to write, bills to pay, people to call, fuck I forgot to email my aunt, documents to mail, reservations to make, and I reached for my coffee.

No coffee.
No coffee?
No tea.
I forgot my caffeine.
Oh dear.

We pulled into the beach lot right at 9 and I shooed the kids off, over the dunes towards the tight knot of classmates. I parked and followed, with the cooler slamming against my shins with every step, reminding me of the pounding headache that I was developing.

I stopped a few times to catch my breath.

I made it.

I dropped the cooler and headed back to the car, sliding in the sand, squinting in the sun, and desperate (desperate!) for coffee. Or tea. Or sugar. Something. Anything. Please god get me out of the sun and away from the noise of the surf and the wind and these hot rays of sun. My head, my eyes, MY GOD MY EYES.

Belatedly, I would like to share something with you.
I am not a morning person.

I arrived back at the car with my shoulders already too-warm, the slow burn of the equatorial fire-sun was setting in.

I turned the ac on full blast and pointed the car back towards town - caffeinecaffeinecaffeinecaffeinecaffeine

I had to stand in line. A long line. A line that left me standing in front of row after row of glass jars filled with teas, so smug in their caffeine-ness. And bags of coffee. And still, I waited.
I got caffeine. And also a sandwich and ice and then back to the beach and I gather my things and drag the bucket of sand toys and bag of ice and climb over the sliding hills and through the prickly bush and drop this second load of belongings. People were calling greetings but I wasn't there yet. More caffeine. More time. No talking, Not yet.

Back to the car through the sand and across the red scorched earth and hopping the last little bit because it was hot and prickly and drive to another shadier spot and just.....sit. AC blasting, NPR soothing, coffee sipping moment.

And then back. To sit and stay in the shade and try to hammer through the list of things I haven't done. And then I realize - sunblock. She doesn't have her sunblock. My lily-fair maiden is without the block.

I really should carry my Xanax. This is no joke. And then:

"Mama," she asked. "Where are my shoes?"

Shoes. Panic. Shoes. Shit.

I rush back to the car across burny sliding sand and the wind and the su and OH MY EYES. Unlock the car open the back door, the trunk, the front door, the other side, running around the car like a god damned chinese fire drill. A desperate moment. The realization that while I hustled everyone out of the house and ran up and down the stairs 17 times, and reminded them to grab water bottles, I did not remind them to bring shoes. I did not ask if they had them on. I did not see them get in the car or out of the car. Had she come to the beach barefoot?

No shoes. It can't be helped. She wears her brother's for beach cleanup.

We stay. I sit. I type, they play, I reapply block and chase my giggling sandy pink-eared children with shirts that promise an spf50 in one hand, and floppy brimmed hats in the other.

I turn back to my towel and come face to face with another parent. A father. In a bright blue Speedo.

How dashing.

I am not nearly sophisticated enough to come face to face with a  man in a bikini, and not giggle. That shit is funny and if you don't think so then you are clearly more cultured and mature than myself. (Which, granted, is, like, 95% of humanity.) I try not to stare. I stare at the water. I stare at my phone. I stare at my children. I post on facebook. I watch the clock for the moment when I can call this day over. Because paradise it may be, but personal hell it definitely is.

And when we finally got home, back to my house with it's fans and shade and prefectly flushing water and lovely humming refrigerator and my NPR and my sofa and I have a moment to breathe, I reflect.

Boy. I sure do love the beach. Maybe I'll go again next year.

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