On Beach Trips

For the past decade or so (with the exception of the Covid years), we've taken a shared vacation with my husband's parents, his brothers, and our nieces and nephews each summer. Typically, we've stayed around the Rehoboth or Bethany Beach areas in Delaware, but this year my brothers-in-law booked a beach house near the southern edge of North Carolina on Carolina Beach. This new location added driving distance, but made up with warmer water.

The location doesn't matter much, I've found. As long as there's a beach and a house, we're set. The years blur, but themes emerge: games of Yahtzee with my mother-in-law on a porch, piles of sandy flip flops discarded at the entryway, mismatched beach towels hung to dry over a clothesline, sunscreen bottles tossed into canvas bags, help-yourself dinners of spaghetti or tacos because these meals are easy to prepare for a dozen people, strolls to collect shells, and the obligatory picture of all the cousins together.

We've been taking these trip long enough to notice how afternoon nap times for the youngest children have been replaced with all the kids staying up late, lingering around the kitchen table with tortuously long games of Phase 10 or progressive rummy. Instead of supervising as our toddlers splashed in the shallow surf and made sandcastles, as we did during years past, we parents now lounge and catch brief naps in the sun as our teenage kids charge into the waves and play Spikeball.

Like all summers, I bring my tote bag of books. This year, I sat on the porch, propping my feet up on the railing, listening to the waves, and breathing in the restorative ocean breeze as I plowed through three novels about fictional people with fictional life complications as they summer in Nantucket. For a little while, I forget the complexities of my own life.

We play mini golf one evening. We leave partially drunk water bottles that nobody can confidently claim as their own on end tables and countertops. One rainy morning some of us visit the aquarium while others take a nature walk along a trail and get bit by mosquitos and chiggers. I wear a swimsuit continually, substituting a new tee shirt and shorts each day, and let my hair go untamed with saltwater-styled waves.

We occasionally ask, "What day is it?" or "What time is it?" but the answers to these questions don't really matter. Measurements of days and hours don't carry the same weight when you're on the beach as they do in regular life.

This beach trip is different than years past. It's the same as years past. It's wonderful.

No comments

Back to Top