We just returned from a week down the shore. It was as fabulous and relaxing as you might imagine. It’s a week of unplugging and hopping off the grid, of working hard on tan lines, walking up and down the boardwalk, lining up for amusement park rides, and spending the majority of waking hours on the sand or in the ocean. This week is an annual tradition for the kids; they’ve spent more years than not on this island as their annual vacation. So much so that they have created annual rituals of where to eat, which ice cream parlors to frequent, how to maximize gorging on fudge samples, and their own pace for browsing for the perfect hermit crab.
It’s a meaningful week for us as we spend quality time together and create memories as each year brings new developmental milestones. This year, I’m reminded of life lessons:
-We just need one trusted friend to help us put our Brave on: La Chica is a timid soul. She usually spends her time yelling at the waves, and only wades a few feet into the ocean, and only for a few minutes at a time. This year, she met a lovely girl, and they hit it off early in the week. We bumped into her and her family everywhere we turned. God works in mysterious ways, and we soon realized we were all kindred spirits meant to start a lovely friendship. La Chica and her Friend built mud castles, dug to China, and shared trail mix and grapes and boogie boards and their love of the movie Frozen. Her Friend is a Brave Fish and loves to swim in the ocean. La Chica understands what it’s like to feel safe, to trust in someone who shares and is kind. She ventured far out into the ocean and spent her days splashing in the waves with her Friend’s encouragement and friendship at her side all week. She tucked this Brave into her soul, because she ventured into the deep ocean by herself even after her friend left before she did. When we’re feeling scared or shaky, or want to take a risk, all we need is one trusted friend to help us with our Brave. It just takes one person to believe in you.
-You’re lucky enough: Through the years, we have become good friends with the hotel manager and his brother as they have watched my children grow up and we have witnessed our own life events unfold. They laugh that inevitably, if there is bad weather, a handful of guests demand their money back for a less-than-ideal vacation. I couldn’t believe how entitled and miserable some people can be. We must always remember regardless of the weather or life circumstances, if you’re lucky enough to be at the beach, you’re lucky enough. Be grateful for where you are in life, no matter what season you’re in.
-Sometimes it’s best to just walk away: Years ago I had the most divine fresh homemade peach ice cream on the boardwalk. I’ve since dreamed of it often, but they have not had it available the last few years I’ve been down the shore. This year I was giddy when they scooped it into a cup for me. Until I tasted it. It was nothing like I remembered it. I don’t know if their recipe has changed, or if I’ve built it up to be something it never was. But it was not what I remembered it to be. I suspect it was the latter–that I had idealized it over the years. Sometimes, it’s best to relish in the memories of something or someone, rather than going back to it.
-Just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean you should too: Spending time in a town that is happily billed as “America’s Greatest Family Resort” means a week of being surrounded by couples with children. It’s a sunny, sandy microcosm of life at large. Everywhere I looked, it seemed like everyone is coupled. And has a tattoo. Or four. And I am neither coupled or inked. I am reminded that I don’t necessarily want their significant others or tats. It’s easy to assume everyone is happily coupled or inked with no regrets. I could easily get either, but I don’t because I haven’t found the right one yet–boyfriend or tattoo design. I am reminded I don’t really want what others have.