Baby Bug better not grow up to be afraid of the waves like I am. I was so proud when I received her fake birth certificate (her real one is still tied up in red tape somewhere) and it said she was born in “Beachtown, USA”. How cool is that? She’s going to be the real deal beach baby like I always wished I was.
I was born in an ocean town too but it was more of a harbor and a pier kind of a town. Nothing like the sun and sand we enjoy here. If my mom ever took me to the beach, she’d probably have to dress me in a snowsuit and cover my face with a receiving blanket to protect me from the wind. In fact, I don’t have any real memories of that ocean other than stinky fish at the wharf. It’s funny the things you remember from childhood.
When I was five, we moved from northern California to southern. I had a lot of ear infections in that damp dank beach town and finally my parents got tired of expensive trips to the hospital for ear surgeries so they picked us up moved us all the way down to southern California where the air is so dry the only way you could ever get an ear infection is if you went swimming all day long in a pool. Even that was hard to get but I managed a few times. Nothing like the trouble I had up north though.
I think it was about 110 that summer we moved. It was such a shock. Everything was hot and there were no trees. Just decomposed granite and fire ants. I had never seen fire ants before so the first thing I did was go outside and stomp on them. Boy, did I learn a lesson. Fire ants are so mean. If you stomp on just one, they call in all their relatives and next thing you know your leg is getting chewed off by tiny little teeth secreting acid. That was fun.
After we moved to the desert we didn’t go to the beach much. Maybe once a year. It was a big deal. You had to pack up your whole car with every possible thing you could need (coolers, hot dogs, vats of iced tea) and then drive an hour an a half to get there. My brother and I would be so excited as we drove and drove and drove to get there. Then just as we reached the last hill before you get your first glimpse of the blue ocean, we would hit a wall of fog. What the —?!! Where was the fun in the sun? The waving palm trees? The sailboats and surfers? What a disappointment. Here it was screaming hot all the way from home to the beach and once we got there it was just mucky gray stuff. What a drag.
Of course that didn’t happen every time. Sometimes it was hot and sunny and we’d come home with blistering sunburns. I mostly remember the trips in my early teens when I developed a very strong dislike of the feeling of dried ocean water and sand on my skin. Those must have been the years when we didn’t have air conditioning in the car because I remember practically trying to crawl right out of my skin from sand irritation. I hated the beach. Sand and grit and big waves that knocked you over and rolled you around like you were strawberries in a blender.
Then I hit high school and like every other teenaged girl, I fell under the spell of the “surfer boy”. The tan shoulders, the bleached out crispy hair, the crusty leather flip flops, the endless games of volleyball… I was a sucker. I tried every trick in the book to get my parents to take me to the beach. Then once I learned to drive, I took my rusty old truck out there every chance I got.
Unfortunately, I never really realized my dream of being a surfer boy’s girlfriend. I just attempted. I tried to learn to surf and I hated it. All I ever learned was how to get water and sand up my nose. The waves were out to get me. Sometimes I’d swim out past the waves and that was glorious. The feeling of endless fathoms of space beneath you and above you. The funny tickling of sea weed or…. maybe a shark! But then you’d have to swim back in and that was the most frightening feeling ever. There is nothing worse than that feeling that there is something behind you and when you look over your shoulder to see what it is, you see a fifty foot wave about to crash on your head and pulverize your bones into little pieces of sand. That is what sand is made of you know, little bits of bone. I still have never gotten over that fear.
Then I met Toby. He tried his best to help me conquer my fears… but nothing really helped. He used to go surfing every day back then. Body surfing which is technically not as cool as real surfing. (Insert rolling eyes here.) I finally met my surfer boy, sort of. But of course by then I’d developed a bunch of other fears, like being seen in a bikini. I wish I could go back in time and punch my old self in the face. What was I so afraid of? That someone might see a little dimple on the back of my knees? Sheesh.
I’d kill to go back in time and have that body all over again. Not that I’m complaining. I know I have a lot to be thankful for still. I’m just saying that those were the years that I spoiled all my beach fun by worrying about stupid things like how my leg might look if I let it relax on the towel instead of being held taut at a perfect three inches above the towel. The stupidity! So many fun days at the beach wasted by the little voices in my head.
So now I live at the beach and I’m slowly getting over all my past baggage. My relationship with the beach has matured and developed into a deeper love. Every day Baby Bug and I take a walk down to the beach and we look at the ever changing colors of the water and the sand. I think I have finally gotten past myself and all my silliness and now I love the beach for it’s beauty and sheer awesomeness. I love the sense of space I feel. It’s that feeling that nobody will ever crowd me any further than this because the ocean is always there and there is always space and clean-ish smelling air to breath. I love the ocean. I love the beach. I would be lost without them.
Now I’m ready to start all over again with Baby Bug