I was around 8 or 9 and our entire family, including my grandparents, drove to Huntington Beach, California to visit my aunt. I’m talking 7 people crammed into a Chevy Nova… and two of those people were my grandparents.
Can you imagine?
I have a distinct memory of driving through Death Valley and really thinking I was going to die. Grandpa didn’t want to waste gas by running the AC and sweat was trickling down my back and pooling around my butt. My thighs were sticking to the vinyl seating, my sweaty arms rubbing against my annoying brother’s damp body and I really thought Death Valley would be the death of me.
But the ocean made it all worth it. The endless waves rolling in, seashells, standing in one place until my feet were buried up to my ankles, venturing into the massive swells, inching out into the vast sea, until the waves crashed onto my chest. I loved it all.
This past weekend I got the opportunity to show my kids the ocean for the very first time. Unlike my journey to the Pacific all those years ago, their first glimpse of the sea was the Atlantic. It’s funny how the terminology employed by both coasts so excellently fits the environment. When you live in the western portion of America you go visit the “beach”. It’s a very tanned and toned, suntan oil environment. The east coast is all about the “shore” which summons images of whiter folk who are less toned than their western counterparts. The beaches aren’t quite as sprawling – at least not the ones I’ve seen and it’s less about what you look like.
I’ve head several parents talk about how their children hated touching sand for the first time and were deathly afraid of the waves washing to shore. I’m pleased to report that both kids could not get enough of the sand, the waves and all the rest of it. The temperatures hovered around seventy and the water was still warm from the sun’s summer rays. I’m hoping to make this seaside visit an annual affair. A tradition. Traditions are good.
Here then, are a bunch of photos of Henry at the shore. I didn’t do the whole swimsuit thing because it didn’t seem right in October. We just kind of dipped his feet in the water and he laughed and laughed and then crawled around at ate sand, as every good baby should.