Back to the Beach

“God called the dry ground ‘land,’ and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.’ And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:10

My wife and I are both beach people.

Given a choice of vacation spots we pick the sea every time. We’ve been away from the waves for way too long and are now planning to hit the beach sometime this summer.

We’ve been looking at Florida, trying to find a place we can drive to, and that will combine relaxing beach time without too much of a crowd and also have typical touristy activities that are fun. We’re still looking, and in typical Magsam fashion, we can’t make a decision.

People suggest stuff but I never know how to take such advice. People mean well, but such things are just so subjective. It’s like people who have known me for years and then suggest I’d like the latest movie simply because they liked it.

“You’ve got to see Pitch Perfect, it’s the best movie!”

I want to say, “Really, you’ve know me for nearly 15 years, we’ve spent countless hours together and you think I’ll like that? Really?”

Though it is possible to mess up a beach holiday,  the seashore is generally a difficult place to be unhappy.

My wife and I have shared hot dogs with just a little bit of beach grit and thought they were wonderful. We’ve walked the sands hand-in-hand in the Bahamas and Jamaica. We’ve spend countless hours right next to each other in beach chairs, communing companionably as we both kept our noses solidly in our respective beach reads of choice.

Our daughter likes the beach too. When little, she loved being towed on a boogie-board by her uncle John Donohoe, making sand castles, getting buried up to her waist, and on or off the beach, she always managed to make a new friend or two.

While visiting my family back East, we’d often be treated to a few days on the Jersey Shore, usually Ocean City or Wildwood. Once, when my daughter was small, I sat at the edge of the water with my feet in the sand and she built a barrier around them to protect them from the waves that were creeping higher and higher. When the water managed to get over her little walls, I began to wiggle my now wet toes frantically.

I gave voice to my tootsies as I moved them about. “Help! Help!” I had my piggies wail. “We can’t swim!”

To which  my daughter responded with the steely resolve of a veteran beat-cop: “Feet, don’t panic.”

It might be that the beach stirs of up some of my best childhood memories, so I’m pretty much predisposed to have a good time.

I grew up in Philadelphia and we’d get a little place down in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, every summer. I still remember the drive down (which only took a few hours but seemed forever) and the smell of the shore as we got closer and closer. Then there was salt water taffy, going to the boardwalk over in Wildwood, talking to my father, the scary noise the bathtub made when it drained and the solid assurance there was a monster down there that would be happy to devour me.

The summer I turned 13 I spent most of the summer with my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Irene hanging with my cousins Jerry, Joe and Irene Ann at their condo in Wildwood.

Even though that summer signaled the end of my parents’ marriage, thus all the time spent there, I remember it as an important and happy time for me. I ran the beaches with my boy cousins and we fished and crabbed. We’d jump on the bus and go to the boardwalk and get into the minor scrapes boys that age get into. It was also an important summer in my evolution as a nerd, shifting from war comics to super-hero comics. I  grew up a lot that summer and hopefully became a little less self-centered and a little more capable. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the ocean from their second story condo patio.

So, this summer, it’s the beach for the Magsams. I suspect there will be bike rides and hot dogs and wave jumping and beach reads. There may be some new friends made or if we cave, we might let our daughter bring a friend along with her to hang out with much like I chummed around with my cousins in Jersey back in the day.

And if push comes to shove, and the waves come up, trust me, my feet will not panic. This won’t be their first rodeo.

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