“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.”
When life gets stressful I usually can let it roll until I can deal well with whatever is going on. One of the places that I think about when times are chaotic is the beach. I believe that there are mountain people and beach people. I happen to be a beach person.
When I was a child my parents went through a familiar, particularly among immigrants, ritual with the beach. Woken up very early in the morning, packing lunch and snacks, backgammon games, drinks, beer maybe, a radio, a sheet and of course towels. This was in the days where I and all children sat without booster seats or seat belts, often in the divide between my parents front seats. Our massive 1975 Buick LeSare, ironically almost as large as my first apartment, air conditioned with an eight track player, height of loaded for those days. These were the days when people were smoking in these cars with their kids in the back and sunblock yet to be mandatory or even thought of. They were also the days of music ours and theirs, the clank of the dice on the backgammon board and lots of laughter. Off we went often following or being followed by a few other Romanian families my parents were friends with, whose kids to this day are my closest friends (love you girls). We got to Jones Beach beating traffic due to 830 am or earlier departures.
We always parked at Field 4, lugging coolers, radios, our not woken up selves on the long trek to the beach. For any of you not familiar this is not a short, quick walk, it is a lengthy schlep. Once we arrived on the boardwalk we always went to our right, going toward the same spot that we always went to. These trips were really great, walking and scoping out boys, seeing how much we far we can get from our parents to pretend to not "be" with them, playing in the giant waves, begging and not getting to eat the food from the concession stand (that food is terrible, I brought a nice sandwich...refrains from our Mothers). They often ended after 3 pm at which point we went to a picnic area in Valley Stream for barbecues of Romanian specialties. We girls were burnt then browned and blonder by the end of the summer. Our friendship forged with shared secrets and squabbles. I am not sure we ever thanked our parents for these trips. They enjoyed them too dancing, singing, laughing with each other...losing their stress I assume.
I have spent many summers at Jones Beach and it still remains one of my favorites. As my friends and I got older and started to drive by ourselves to the beach we discovered Field 6, high irony here since this was so much closer parking (practically on the beach) when I now only carried a bamboo mat rolled around a towel, walkman, book and tanning oil (I tend not to burn and the SPF factor never went up past 4 until much later in my life). We often had to wait to park at this field as we were no longer up before 10 am, tired from adventures the night before.
These days we have a place near a beach in Rhode Island and our boys love spending their summer weekends there, sunscreen on of course, back to schlepping a ton of stuff for these trips (the smaller the child the more stuff they seem to require during these outings). I have been to many beaches and have loved most. There is nothing that makes me smile more than then thought of a lazy summer day, lying on the sand , reading, walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean. I even love the beach in the winter, the golden hues of the summer replaced by misty grey shades. The smell of the salt air, the woosh of the waves and suddenly my stress levels are down. In my list of wish to haves a house on the beach is very high on the list. Until then I wish you all a day in your place of stress relief, me I am off to Field 6 in my mind......