Here is the paradox. I love the beach. I hate going there. Let’s deal with one side at a time. First, the love side of the beach. If you love the beach, it’s probably for the same reasons I do:
- The water, the waves, the distant horizon, the boats going by, the glistening surface…it’s all good.
- To wonder what lies beneath, what’s on the other side and what would it be like to voyage it all from sea to sea.
- To ponder the history it holds for all who have sailed upon it, fought over it and died beneath it.
- To simply sit upon its sandy shoreline and stare out into its endless span and think about … nothing.
Those are the things I love about the beach. Now, the other side—the “hate-going-there side”—which is based on the assumption the trip there involves other people, i.e. the traditional family outing. I haven’t done that in a while…until this past weekend. Hence, this posting today. All the bad things came back to me. With that in mind, here they are in all their beachy pain:
- All the prep that’s involved: running to the supermarket to gather up the ice, the drinks, the lunch and snacks, the sun tan lotion, etc.
- Packing the car with all the stuff: the cooler, the chairs, the beach toys for the kids, the towels, the beach umbrella, and all the people.
- Driving to the beach…though it’s only ten miles for us which really isn’t bad.
- Unloading the car, settling arguments regarding who carries what from the car to “the site.”
- Walking around for what seems miles before finally settling on “the site” and staking claim which is officially done by driving the beach umbrella into the sand.
- Laying out the spread of stuff we brought with us and then I assume the position of family lifeguard whereby I compulsively watch the younger children, yelling at them every few minutes to come back closer into shore. I don’t dare lose my concentration on them…’cept maybe for an occasional bikini that walks by.
- Distributing the food supplies and wondering what happened to the cookies which I swear I packed but now are nowhere to be found. And, oh yeah, picking the sand out of my teeth after eating a PB&J and wondering how that much sand managed to work its way into my sandwich.
- Baking in the sun. More backing in the sun. Burning in the sun. Where is the lotion? Why didn’t I put it on sooner?
- Time to go. The parking meter is running out. Gotta hustle and pack everything up. How come it seems we have more than when we came. Who’s carrying what?
- The sandy, scorching, stuffy, itchy ride home. How did I get sand there? (now the ten miles seem a lot longer)
- Unpacking the car and putting everything away.
- Marveling at how much sand managed to accumulate inside the car.
- Waiting for everyone to get their showers.
- Waiting for a new supply of hot water so I can take my shower.
- Wait, where are my sunglasses? Oh crap.
The way I figure it, the only way to avoid a lot of the horrors of the group beach trek is to go by yourself or have someone who has done all the prep come by your house and pick you up. But that only solves half the problem because you still have to go through everything else once you get there. And so it goes—all the things that make going to the beach…a beach.