Just as lovely
A month ago, JG and I spent a few days in Ocean City, New Jersey, with his extended family. The night before we left, there was a violent storm along the east coast. We saw some lightning and heard thunder, but I had no idea of the destruction until we were on some back road in New Jersey, gaping at the fallen trees and avoiding branches in the road. For miles, there were no working traffic signals. Police officers directed traffic in some intersections, but others — like in roads with multiple lanes and turns into shopping centers — were sheer chaos. Frustrated left turners cut across the intersections, stopping just to avoid accidents, or not. Horns blared. My nerves frayed, and I breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the first red light shining steadily. Not blinking, not out completely. Phew.
And then, we were at the beach, and things were better.
But not everything was better. I felt so odd and strange in a new beach house, without Mimi. It took me a while to unwind. I realized that my shoulders were scrunched up to my ears. I felt twitchy.
On the third night, we went to my favorite restaurant at the shore, the clam bar. It’s on a pretty marina, and the wait is super long for our huge group, so we always bring a cooler of beer, a bucket of margaritas, and take lots of pictures. Someone suggested that we have a toast, so one of the uncles raised his glass. “To the lady who made all of this possible,” he said. There were tears. Hear, hear.
Then my shoulders fell away from my ears, and I stopped twitching.
One morning, we enjoyed a show when a pod of dolphins frolicked just beyond the sand bar. They jumped and leaped, forward, backward, sometimes individually, and sometimes in unison. I put my finger in my book to mark the place, stood up from my beach chair, and watched. Someone asked me if I was going to take pictures. No, I said. I couldn’t capture it anyway. It was just as lovely to take it in. The dolphins made their way down the beach, all glittering and light. Eventually, we all sat down and returned to our books.
There were games, of course.
Like last year, I abstained from participating and took pictures. I became fond of wide shots with lots of blue sky, and I tried to get shots of bean bags in flight, the celebrations of the victors, and the agony of the defeated. I love this picture above very much, with its simultaneous gaming and fist-bumping. I hedged my bets by taking a massive quantity of pictures (mostly in continuous mode), and I think I did a pretty good job. I’ll do better next time, but this first go at the beach was satisfactory.
Unencumbered by participating in the Olympics, I took so many naps on the beach that I only read 200 pages while we were there. The sun beat down so steadily that I went in the ocean more than I can ever remember in the past. With the exception of one choppy day that left me breathless, the water was calm and soothing. At times, I floated on my back, letting the current drift me around, hearing nothing except the dull swish of water in my ears, and watching the occasional ad plane fly overhead. If I did not have the annoying habit of vividly imagining giant sea creatures rising up beneath me, I could have bobbed around out there indefinitely.