The sun was headed for another siesta beyond the horizon of the Pacific Ocean on another perfect day in Puerto Vallarta. We had timed our winter escape exactly right. While the north was freezing and shoveling snow, we were sunbathing and shoveling sand.
The kids chased the ball into the surf for the third time in the impromptu game of beach soccer put on by our resort’s activity team. A gaggle of children magnetically chased the ball around. My 4-year old Charlie was, by far, the youngest and smallest of them all. I beamed with pride as he immediately ran to the net to take position for the game.
About five minutes in to the game, I reached for my pocket and found nothing there. A week had been spent carrying my phone (camera), a bigger camera, a backup video device as well as a camera for the boys. I had enough ammunition for a thousand photos, but now here, in the waning hours of our vacation, one of the most exciting experiences of our week was happening and I didn’t have a camera.
My wife wasn’t even there, I had wandered with Charlie to see what the commotion on the beach was about, and he eagerly joined the bigger kids to play the game.
It was just me, and my memory to capture this moment.
As you would expect of a 4-year old playing beach soccer, Charlie was more interested in digging in the sand and making piles in his net than paying attention to the game. I stood a few feet off to the side, determined not to interfere in the game, but at the same time I could prod him to pay attention when he needed it.
Still, as each ball came close, he’d look up from his castle and make a strong play in front of the net. Here was my 4-year-old son playing a perfect game of beach soccer, stopping every ball. I was beaming with pride, as any stage parent would be. This is the kind of moment that begs to be Instagrammed and humblebragged to a social network.
And here I was with no phone. No camera. Just me and my memory to capture the sequins glitter off the waves in the sunset as the kids chased the ball in unison.
The moment wasn’t entirely natural. I was very much aware I was not able to take pictures of this scene, and so I became even more engaged in trying to capture the moment in my mind’s eye.
As I watched the shadows dance down the beach chasing another ball beyond the lines of play, I decided that would have to be enough.