Saturday, August 2, 2008

Life's a Beach

Life's A Beach by Barb McKone

This week, spent mostly on the beach, has brought back memories of the small paperback that rested on the radiator in our hall bathroom through my middle school years. I never read it; I'm not sure I even picked it up again after reading the back. "I'm Okay, You're Okay." When it comes to life on the beach, truer words have never been spoken. Or written.

As I lie here, covered in #50 and still frying, I make the hundredth beachy observation of the afternoon. A group of three sisters are romping in the surf. While I've noticed that my fifteen-year-old son has attracted several groups of tween girls in tiny bikinis, lipgloss and eyeliner to our chosen beach spot, ("prostitots," as my daughter calls them) this group of women could not be further from that category. They are mid-fifties to mid-sixties, hair all the same length, large bodies in brighly colored tank suits perched on skinny legs, laughing and visiting as they bare their bodies to the world. They are having a wonderful time, splashing and diving like teenagers. I love them. I secretly wish to be the fourth sister, listening in and adding to whatever subject is so cracking them up. I know, however, that I just wouldn't fit in. My beach blanket might as well be a world away. I'm just not yet worthy.

I am a pool person who wants to be a beach person. I have worn a cover-up to the beach. Flip-flops that match the cover-up. I have not self-tanned, and I'm a little self-conscious about my thighs. These ladies are fearless! While we do also observe the occasional perfect beach body, they are few and far between. I am the norm. The sisters are the norm. After just one afternoon of beach viewing, I know that it's time to cast the cover-up aside.

The beach frees its visitors in a way that midwestern chlorine just can't match. Perhaps it's the long walk from the locker room to the lawn chairs in full view of all the still-tight new moms at the kiddie pool and teenagers at the snack bar we're forced to endure; something makes the pool a more body-conscious place. Perhaps it's the given beach draw of the ocean itself; no one's looking anywhere else. I allow my mind to wander through this thought while watching a grandfather dipping his granddaughter's toes into the incoming tide, leaning over to show at least two inches of rear end I just don't need to see. "Crack Kills," my daughter mutters under her breath. We both chuckle a bit, but I have to give the guy credit. Aware of the low-riders or not, I'm sure he wouldn't care. No one at the beach seems to care.

At this point, a seagull swoops down and yanks my already sandy sandwich from my hand. He gets the top half, and the groups around our blanket area witness this and laugh at my shock. Apparently, one holds their sandwiches closer to the chest at the beach than I have. I had the gall to be leaning forward, elbows on knees, absentmindedly watching my husband and son playing paddle-ball as I ate. I don't really care. The seagull looks satisfied, and honest to God, it was like I'd mixed the mayo with sand. Let the sneaky creature take the whole thing. I don't need that much... what would it be? Fiber?

My kids are laughing too. Playing games, enjoying the day without any i-Pods or telephones, and laughing. Pink noses and backs peeling a little, we stay, day after day, from morning until the sun goes down. How did this family togetherness in a summer of chaos happen? It's the magic of the beach! No more cover-ups for me. By day three, I walk fearlessly from the car to "our spot." I am relaxed. I am officially, for at least until next season, a "beach person."

I look around for the sisters. They've probably finished their week and headed home. Either way, I will carry their lesson home and into next summer. At the beach, we're all okay.


Daisy said...

This post makes me almost - almost want to get a swimsuit. For now, I'll stick to shorts.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Yes! The beach (ocean or lake) does this. Just last weekend I walked around in my swimsuit with friends at the lake. I stopped worrying about my butt and my thighs and my stomach. Wine helped.

Insane Mama said...

The ocean, it takes all the fears and worries away. I do NOT think I could live without the ocean.