When I was young there were two places outside of my own house where I saw my extended family, the ‘city’ & the ‘shore’
That tells you a few things, I grew up outside of the ‘city’ and I grew up in New Jersey (a well-known fact that only people from NJ call the beach ‘the shore’)
My dad is one of 7. I have aunts, uncles and a LOT of cousins. My grandparents loved the shore and spent summers down there. All the way down the Garden State Parkway to a little town smack in between Atlantic & Ocean City, Margate – home of Lucy the elephant.
My sister & I (the brother siblings are decidedly younger than we are) were unique. We were children of a boy child. There is a in some ways subtle, in some ways not so subtle difference between being a girl child & being a boy child when you grow up. From what I observed, it is easier to ‘visit’ when you are a girl child; you are visiting your mother or your parents & bringing your family with you. When you are a boy child, you are bringing your family with you but your wife is not one of the girl children. No matter how inclusive people try to be often the ‘wife’ does not feel as comfortable because it is not ‘her parents’ house.
Additionally we had 2 more ‘unique’ features. We were the first ones to ‘get out’ of the city. We moved to New Jersey. While it was a good thing, it was not a good thing in the sense of ‘belonging’. It is hard to feel connected when everyone else sees each other all the time and you don’t. You are kind of the novelty (which can have its benefits) but you don’t really feel like you belong, you feel more like a guest.
Oh, & a mother who was apparently not a fan of the beach, sand something but needless to say we spent less time ‘down the shore’
My memories tend to revolve around my fair skinned/red headed tendency to burn. So sunburns, being lotioned up with Nivea & the spray crap too are woven in with making hotdogs after breakfast to bring for lunch & trudging the 4 blocks to the beach. When I was old enough, my grandmother would send me back to the house because I was out long enough.
Anyway, for a long time, while I liked the beach, that was about it. I liked, even loved it maybe but I didn’t ‘need’ it.
One year, when boy and girl child were young, before the house was sold (it was actually a 4plex house where for as long as I can remember, my grandmother had the top/front), I rented the lower/back. I think it was actually the last year before they sold it.
It was honestly one of the best summers. My kids played with cousins they barely knew but got to spend lots of time with & I got to really hang out with my cousins, most of us were now adults & I was able to connect or reconnect in a different way. I made my cousins also into friends.
My boy child ate more sand than anybody thought was possible & my girl child amidst lots of family ‘went with the wind’ and wondered down the beach (yup, aka LOST). Thankfully both survived & most of my sanity returned although I was scarred
So while the beach was always someplace I liked and enjoyed, again it wasn’t fully in my blood until I was an adult and probably in the last decade or so.
Now it just is where I want to be. Pictures of the beach make me smile and feel peaceful.
It is actually where I went, by myself for Thanksgiving, which was my first real holiday without my kids.
So now it’s time to plan some sand time