Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Return From Paradise
I'm back from the beach, and it was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. This particular locale is just a four-hour drive from my home, but four hours certainly makes the difference. The weather was WONDERFUL -- practically reaching 90 degrees on one day -- and the ocean air was seriously therapeutic. During my four days there, I ate and ate and ate and ATE, and slept and slept and slept, walked and walked and walked, and a did bit of shopping that led me to purchase my very first Christmas gift.
It was interesting visiting this beach in the off season. It wasn't crowded, but it wasn't a ghost town either. And most of the people who were there were white, but they didn't seem to look at my group sideways. So that was a good thing.
The last time I visited this beach I was a teenager, celebrating the sweet 16 of another friend. This friend was the daughter of one of my mom's friends, so you know how that goes -- "I have a daughter your age. Her name is M. You guys should hang out!" So over the years, I spent quite a bit of time with M, whether I liked it or not. (For the record, I did like M, who was about a year younger than me. We spent many an evening at her family's drunken gatherings trying to sip from the adult punch. Most times we succeeded)
For her 16th birthday, M's mother arranged it so that M could have a hotel room on the beach with three other friends. That wound up being me, M's best friend Erica, and an older girl I'll call Courage, since her first name was my middle name. We were all in awe of Courage -- she was 19, tall, shapely and beautiful. She had a daughter at home and was the only one among us who seemingly had a clue of what to do in that mysterious ritual of make up. We'd stay up all hours of the night, running to the beach, laughing on the streets and meeting strangers on the strip of road that ran right next to the beach. We'd sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and our only meals -- including breakfast -- came from Zero's, an excellent sub shop in town.
We did meet a couple of guys while we were there. The ones that stayed with us the longest were these older dudes that were in the Navy (they were 19 and 20, if I remember correctly). Most of the girls in my group were oohing and ahhing about this one guy, cause he looked like Prince. But I was more interested in his Cousin, who looked nothing like Prince, but was just as good looking. They hung out with us the rest of the time. The most memorable part of the week was when the seven of us -- they brought a friend along -- got together to play strip Uno. Now, anyone who knows me well, knows that my part in the game consisted of me taking off my watch, my earrings, and my shoes. And NOTHING else. But Prince had no shame, and got down to nothing in the end. Fun times.
We all promised to keep in touch after the vacation, but you know how that goes. My mom got a new job and eventually lost touch with M's mother. My mother was my main connection to M, so that fell away. Prince's Cousin and I wrote letters for awhile, but that didn't go anywhere. Through our exchanges, I learned that dear Cousin couldn't spell -- for example, "you're my Miss Wright", etc -- and a pet peeve developed. I went into my senior year of high school, met the first love and stopped answering Cousin's letters. Eventually, he stopped writing them.
So going back to this beach recently was truly a trip down memory lane. I'm an adult now and truly can't stomach the thought of eating a cheesesteak for breakfast, even though it crossed my mind often as I passed Zeroes. I crossed paths with quite a few cuties, but I wouldn't even dream of inviting them up to my place for strip Uno. (for two reasons: 1. I was with my parents and 2. I'm just not that crazy anymore) It was truly relaxing. Still, there was part of me that missed the traffic in the streets, the car horns, the "hey shawty"s and the illegible phone numbers scribbled on ketchup-stained napkins. Ahhh, youth.
Photo from http://www.youthblog.org/archives/teenagers%20hiphop%20cartoon.jpg