We lugged all the beach gear from the trunk of the car, moving away from the hot concrete parking lot toward the sandy shore, a brilliant horizon of blue with white. Bright colored striped chairs, thirsty towels, and a comfortable blanket under arms, over shoulders and falling from our grips. Willing our feet toward the edge of the ocean we looked for a blank spot to set up homebase. Near the hungry wandering seagulls and children playing became our nirvana, enough room to spread out. Unfolding our accessories and taking off our shoes was a good place to start, a little sandy real estate to call home for the remainder of the day. The sun was leaning west in the late afternoon, but the warmth was strong and comforting. We had to shift our chairs to face toward the skewed rays, which put us in a line, not optimal for conversation.
After setting up camp, we decided that a cool swim was in order. One by one we meandered toward the shore, as the breaking waves brought in little pieces of deep green seaweed. At first it was a shock to feel the cold-water wash over our feet and shins, moving rhythmically over our shivering legs. The ocean made a lulling whoosh sound coupled with the background din of the gulls screaming. We noticed parents bobbing around with their children, lifeguards gazing at nothing, and overweight women squeezed into bakinis walking the beach. Turning to the deeper water, we all bravely dove in, in an effort to acclimate to the water temperature. One person jumped right in after the count of three. The rest of us splashed water on our arms and thighs before taking the plunge.
We floated weightless over the continuous breaking waves feeling a kind of freedom from our bodies. We laugh, played, and felt happy to be with each other. The cold water we originally walked into turned into warm bath water the longer we stayed in. A sandbar 200 feet from shore brought us back to chest high water as I felt safer with the velvety sand under foot. I kept my head above water not wanting to wet my hair, while still being playful. We threw seaweed at each other and talked about nonsense. Everyone was enjoying this escape from the hot summer day. No one wanted to get out of the water, hanging on until the next big wave.
We will have a lifetime of days at the beach, but this one was special. Sitting in my sand chair after the swim I felt completely content. Two laid on the beach blanket on their bellies trying to tan their backs; one reading and one sleeping. Two behind me, eyes closed, silently facing the western rays for the late summer exposure. I spent a few moments sunning myself, then put on my sweatshirt covering my burnt shoulders as I turned my chair. I people watched for a while, then lovingly looked at my family that surrounded me. Every one of them means the world to me. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My quiet observation brought me to a place of solitude and peace. We chose to be here with each other, and that was enough for me.