We rented a house on the beach for a week with my mother and brother. It went a little like this:
- My mother, eating a steam pot full of seafood with a margarita at our favorite restaurant, then mentioning that she doesn’t feel so well. We, having eaten the same dinner, plus an ocean’s worth of raw oysters, are fine. We shrug and move on. My mother rides the Frog Hopper on the boardwalk with my oldest daughter. Afterward, she comments again that she doesn’t feel quite so right. Her face is pale. She drinks part of a lemonade from Kohrs Bros, and is quiet. On the walk back to the car, she abruptly turns around, says she thinks she’s going to be sick, walks past a trash can, then does a ninety-degree turn and barfs all over the base of a tree. Saoirse laughs. I’m in horror: a) My poor mom! and b) OHMYGAD my MOM is puking against a TREE. A kind group of college kids wearing polo shirts and designer sunglasses stop to see if she’s okay. A shop owner runs out with a bottle of water. David runs for the car. It’s a very quiet ride back to the house.
- At the beach bonfire, roasting marshmallows and laughing. Cian takes a poop on my mother’s lap and subsequently craps her pants. She says she doesn’t mind. David carries Cian the entire way home with the baby’s stomach braced over his forearms.
- Quinn, dancing in place to the music being played by the bonfire that night. We start toward home, poopy baby in hand, but Quinn stays, twirling in place to the Grateful Dead music in her head only she can hear. “I want to stay here,” she says, dreamily, waving her hands, and keeps on twirling.
- A heat wave so fierce the index reaches way past 105 degrees. The sand on the beach is so hot it burns the bottoms of my children’s feet, making the skin there peel a week and a half later. The ocean is so cold, though, no one wants to go swimming. Paradox, that.
- Corona, with lime, on a deck. A lot of Corona, a lot of lime. I open a good bottle of malbec in the beginning of the week and drink one glass. The rest of the week? Corona, with lime, on the deck.
- Police sirens at 2 a.m.. The baby is already awake, crying, as he has been at night for most of the week. I’m nursing him as a drunk teenager hangs from the balcony on the third floor, having scaled our deck on the second on his way up. Police shouting “Come here!” as he dangles. His mother hollering about how they’re not being fair.
- Lots of drunk college kids on a scavenger hunt making us feel old and cranky and wanting to shake our canes with them and tell them to get off the lawn. We’re only in our 30s, and not even the late ones at that.
- Wet hair, sandy swimsuits, junk food at 11 a.m.. Lots of steamed shrimp and hush puppies and ice cream. Water parks and stroller walks and an amusement park on the beach. Craft beer and strange mojitos and funnel cake. Arcade games and Candyland and novels. Ocean breeze and seagull cries and the crunch of gravel under tires.
All in all, I’d say it was a good trip. Just don’t ask my mom how she liked the beginning of it. And whatever you do, don’t mention the tree that got a little extra compost that Monday night. She doesn’t really appreciate it. But do hand her a Corona, with lime, of course. And then just sit on a deck, and dream of the ocean.