A Perfect Beach Day

The sun is hot on my skin, but a cool wind sends my hair drifting on its currents.

Perfect day at the beach.  Blissfully warm.  Blissfully refreshing breeze.  Silly frou frou drink in my hand.

Frozen strawberry lemonade with vodka, whipped cream, and 3 cherries.  But no umbrella. Alas.

It’s my second one of the day.  The first one lasted nearly three hours. 

I began this perfect beach day at 10:15. Procured the vacation-only drink at about 11.  At two, we trundled up to the beach bar for blackened flounder and French fries with cocktail sauce.  And another drink.  I told the bartender twice as much strawberry lemonade, half as much booze.  He puts it in a 24 oz white Styrofoam cup.  I take most of it back to the beach with me. 

We, my friend and I, sit there until the shadows began to lengthen and the sun moves behind us.  I can feel old Sol’s heat on my shoulders and back.  I feel the stress dripping off me into the sand where the ocean took it far away.

The sound of the surf, the sound of shorebirds, a small child giggling in the distance somewhere.

Sigh.

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7 Year Ache – Rosanne Cash

The Wisconsin night (early morning?) is -4F factoring windchill and the snow is falling to the beat of the windshield wipers.  It falls across the road in arcs, not sticking, just blowing around. A metaphor?  Perhaps.  I am driving too fast, but the music is so good and I’m feeling lucky.  Might be there’s a full moon behind the clouds.

So much for too cold to snow.  I’m cruising down I-94 East from Okauchee Lake headed towards Milwaukee.  The year is 1981 or so.  I’m listening to Rosanne Cash on 8-track.  This whole album could be the soundtrack of my life for this year and the previous two.  7 Year Ache has a nicer ring than 3 Year Pain in the Ass.

Young.  I would have been 22 or thereabouts.  Tall, thin, 6 feet of hair and legs, some say a knockout, but an absurdly assured insecure one.  I was a contradiction always.  I came across as having moxy and confidence, but in reality I was just a 22-year-old girl trying to find my way.

The heater in the 1980 Mustang can’t keep up with -4F and my breath fogs the windshield.  I am wiping the windshield with the sleeve of my coat and singing at the top of my lungs.  I am steering with my left hand and claaping my thigh to the beat of the song.

“Girls in the bar thinking ‘who is this guy.'”

Who is this guy?  Forty years later I still think about him.  My Baby Thinks He’s a Train is a better choice and I switch tracks on the 8-track, trying to get close to that song.  I’ve memorized what song is on what track and where I need to start to get to a song I like.

“Man, he’s hard to take.  What you supposed to do when you’re baby thinks he a train? “

I see a car in the median, I slow, knowing it’s a trooper.  I’m doing a sedate 55 when I pass him.  He leaves me be.   Yeah, I’m lucky tonight.  Headed home, alone.

The whole car is shaking from the vibration of the shitty stereo blaring Rosanne Cash singing under the tutelage of Rodney Crowell.  Geniuses, the both of them.

It takes one to know one, baby
I know how you feel
You got your hunger
And some problems that are real
And you’re dealing with some demons
Who are driving you insane
And I’ve seen them drag you screaming
Down the hallways of your brain.
 
But wait!  Thats a Kristofferson song.  Sung by the great Emmylou and Rodney.
 
Evidently, I have a thing for damaged men.  Who play guitar.
 
You act like you were just born tonight
Face down in a memory but feeling all right
So who does your past belong to today?
Baby, you don’t say nothing when you’re feeling this way
Face down in a memory, but feeling all right.  Yeah….  Feeling all right.
 
It’s -4F and I’m singing myself home on a frigid Wisconsin night.  And 40 years later, I’m sitting in a converted barn remembering the cold of that night, the heat of the music, and the attention of damaged men.  Listening to rain fall on a tin roof wondering if the snow and cold and heat will come again.

Surreal Moment in Madrid-Barajas Aeropuerta.

I’m in the Madrid international airport. There is a cacophony of languages. Very little of it is in English.

I’ve been chilling in the VIP lounge which is very quiet. (For 34 euros you too can be a VIP!). I kept checking the monitor for my gate assignment. Nothing. I called the airline. It hasn’t been assigned yet.

This airport is huge. Lots of people. Lots of languages. I have no idea what terminal to be in much less which hallway. The woman at customs indicated she thought Terminal 4 gates in area J or K. I’m getting a wee bit anxious. I leave the tranquil lounge for teeming crowds, nonstop PA announcements and crying children. I fight my way through. Pardone me, por favor. I check monitor after monitor. Finally I found it. I’m in the right terminal, wrong hallway. I head for Gate K 80. Finally I get there. Here. I am here. I collapse into an empty bank of seats. I’m the first one here.

Then. Out of nowhere. Off in the distance somewhere someone is loudly whistling Camp Town Ladies. Stephen Foster in the Madrid Airport. I have an instant ear worm. (and now you do too!). Doodah indeed.

A Proper Vacation

toes in the sandI just returned from my first proper vacation in five years. By proper, I mean a vacation in which I do a lot of sitting around at a beach with umbrella drinks.  This vacation was the First Annual Mother Daughter Beach Trip to North Myrtle Beach, SC.  I had a whole week with my mother – something I’ll treasure for always.  And we do it again next year!

The drive down was uneventful.  We arrived a day before our check-in at the condo, so we stayed in a seedy motel on the beach.  It was glorious that first night on the beach sitting in the dark and watching the phosphorescent surf.  After the long drive, I slept like a dead person.

010We stayed in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo at a Wyndham resort. We unpacked suitcases and put clothes in the drawers and closets.  We shopped for food.  We had board games.  We set the timer on the coffee pot so we’d have coffee when we woke.  We flippin’ moved in.  It was wonderful.

The condo was luxurious – granite countertops, walk in showers, a large soaking tub.  It was equipped with everything we needed including a washer and dryer.  We were on the 9th floor and although we were not ocean front (long story), the view was fabulous.  While I would never give up my barn, there’s something to be said for smaller living spaces – they’re a whole lot easier to keep clean and organized.

029Left to my own devices, I would have sat on the beach each of the 8 days we were there and stared at the ocean until I was fried to a crisp. Mom is more of a get out and do things kind of chick.  So we ran up and down Highway 17 eating and shopping and visiting a sculpture garden.  The garden is truly a marvel and I had a lot of fun with the camera there.  I have still not properly learned to use the camera.  But it’s on my to-do list.  You know, that list of mine that is in volumes.

We did a fair amount of shopping.  I bought a dress that I have no idea where I’m going to wear it other than next year’s beach trip.  Honestly, does a 55 year old need a strapless blue and white striped sun dress?  No.  But what’s need got to do with it.

toes on the balconyBut each day started and ended with me drinking coffee or wine on the balcony. The balcony and I fused.  I was one with the balcony.  The ocean breeze, the scent of salt water, the sounds of the waves, the tightness of my sun-kissed skin.  It would take about 5 minutes on the balcony for me to become all zen.

One afternoon we had a rousing game of Scrabble.  We didn’t keep score, but I think Mom won.  She had longer, more interesting words.  I was too zen to give the game my full attention.  The glass of wine probably didn’t help much either.

I do miss that balcony.

mamas artBetween balcony sessions and running up and down Highway 17, I sat on the beach in my blue sand chair. On the beach, it took me about 2 minutes to be all zen.  There is nothing like planting one’s butt in a low chair with feet in the surf for chilling out.  I was a puddle of ooze with no more ambition, aside from procuring the occasional umbrella drink, than the sand on the beach.  One day I watched dolphins cavort.  Another I watched toddlers cavort.  I was struck, as I always am, by the joy children find on the seashore.  I need grandbabies to take to the beach.  (Do you hear me, Chef Boy ‘R Mine?)

first breakfastWhile we did procure groceries, we ate out a lot. One morning for breakfast, I had a steamer of crab legs and shrimp.  Another breakfast involved fish tacos and a Hurricane in a souvenir glass.  One day we had banana splits (bodacious banana splits) for lunch.  We had dinner in a dive bar and the fish was so fresh, I swear they went out and caught it while I was eating my sushi appetizer.

I went to bed early, slept late and usually managed a nap. We had rain one day and I tucked into a good book while listening to the roar of the surf and raindrops on the patio door.

jeansIt was all good. All of it.  It was the vacation I sorely needed after the past few years and I savored every moment.  I have my commemorative Christmas ornaments to mark the occasion and I have memories of quality time with my mother.  I can highly recommend a proper vacation!

I’m having trouble reorienting to real life. My house is a mess.  The suitcase is still sitting in the kitchen. The puppy missed me and spends a lot of time on my lap.  It’s been hard to motivate to do much more than what is absolutely necessary.  But today I have a fire in my belly to tackle this house – I want it as zen as I feel.  So off I go to clean and declutter and deal with the suitcase.