When I was a girl, I dreamed of summers spent at the beach. Crashing waves, salty air, tan skin. I am a Pisces, the fish. I don't know if I subscribe to astrology, but in this area it is spot on. I do love the water. Alas, growing up in landlocked Kansas, dreams of the ocean are all I had. And while we spent many, many summer days and nights on the lake waterskiing and swimming, always there was that call to the ocean.
It is many, many years later and now I live on the water. Or darn close anyway. You can't see it from my house, but you can be there within 15 or 20 minutes. Despite this, I have taken miserly few beach vacations. So many of my trips have involved visiting family in other parts of the country that I have neglected this desire.
But a few weeks ago, after months of anticipation and planning, I found my way to the ocean again. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
We drove through the night, a mostly sleeping toddler in the back seat while I fought hallucinations to get there alive. It seems I'm not so good at staying up 24 hours as I used to be. Also, two glasses of wine and I am DONE. But that is another story.
We arrived to find our hotel and, thanks to all that is good and holy, they let us check in hours ahead of normal time. Despite our dismay at not getting the room we reserved (Again, months and months ago. Wyndam, you let us down. Big time.), we were delighted with the view and location. We made do, because what kind of practical midwesterner would I be if I couldn't overcome a teensy bit of adversity like that?
Our first night was the Fourth of July and I would be remiss if I didn't say that if you've never seen fireworks from a 15th story balcony in North Myrtle Beach, well, you just haven't lived. First off, evidently the folks in South Carolina aren't as concerned about people blowing off fingers and catching houses on fire as we are here in Maryland, the land of "we don't trust you with more than a sparkler." Seriously, they should put that on the license plate. No my friends, in South Carolina, any Tom, Dick and Jim Bob can shoot off any kind of firework they want. Anywhere. And they did. All up and down the beach, for miles and miles. Dangerous though it might have been, it was spectacular. Watching my daughter ooh and aah, her eyes wide, made the long drive and sleepless night completely worth it.
The rest of the week went by in a lazy progression of food, pool, food, nap, beach, food, sleep. Repeat. The days ran in to one another. I ate my weight in crab legs and fried corn on the cob. I felt not sleep deprived for the first time in nearly three years. My beloved husband, without discussion, took the lion's share of Sophie watching, so I could enjoy myself. And most importantly, I rolled around in the Atlantic waves.
Our last day, we watched a lightening storm come in off of the water. It was a fitting end to a week of perfect weather. We sat on the balcony, watching the current travel between cloud and water, listening to the thunder and wishing we could stay just a little bit longer.
I know we will look back on the photos for years to come and laugh at the memory of the little girls (and their daddies) digging their way to china in the sand, the look on Sophie's face when we jumped into a wave as it crested, the homey little diner where we ate breakfast and the waitresses played peekaboo with Sophie, floating around the lazy river pool, us on the big tubes and Sophie on her little donkey floaty.
You understand how people can chuck it all and run away to live a carefree beach lifestyle. Pull a Gauguin*. Those few days spent with friends, each other and the ocean, were idyllic. It would be heaven to live like that always. But it is often rarity that bestows upon a thing its preciousness. Could we appreciate the beauty and simple pleasures if we had them everyday?
I can tell you this much, I wouldn't mind trying.
*Although not the abandoning family part.