On Friday we leave for a week long vacation. We’re not going anywhere fancy, but we’re going somewhere special.
Every summer of my childhood, my mom’s whole family- grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone, would drive the 2 hours to the beach. We stayed at my great-aunt and uncle’s house, sometimes cramming 20+ people in. We slept in bunk beds and on couches, we showered outside and sometimes in pairs (water restrictions during a long drought…), we went to the marina and ate at the same restaurants year after year. It was as much a part of my life as going to school was. Every summer, without fail, there was the beach.
Some of my clearest and fondest childhood memories reside there. Getting up early and going for walks with my grandma to find those sand dollars. And cleaning tar off my feet with baby oil afterwards. The time I accidentally put all my shells back in my aunt’s full glass of milk instead of in the identical, empty solo cup I had taken them out of. Major water fights with cousins. Boogy boarding until our eyes and skin were red.
When we were in junior high/high school, the beach house was no longer available to us because my great aunt and uncle moved into it full time, so we rented other houses in the same neighborhoods and continued our tradition for many more summers. The last time we went was 2 years ago, just a week or so before we found out that I was pregnant. It was one of the first times my youngest cousins (11, 9 and 4) had ever gone and while it’s not the same without my grandma, it’s still my favorite place.
This year it’ll be a slightly smaller scale than when I was a kid, but so many of us are grown and have jobs now that it’s hard to coordinate. Not to mention that with the next generation of kids, the amount of space we need is harder and harder to find and since we’re renting for real instead of from family, it’s harder to sneak extra family members in. There will still be bunches of cousins, siblings, grandparents and most importantly, love. That’s what I remember most about the weeks at the beach. It was time with my family, happiness, relaxation, and just feeling connected. Since moving away from home 10 years ago, that feeling has been slowly fading, but this is a week where I get to find it again, feel it and let my son get a taste of it as well.
Getting to carry this tradition on for Eli is something I have long dreamed about. I always hoped that someday my son would have cousins to play in the water with, to teach to boogy board. Even though the short cut to the donut shop is closed, I hope he’ll still get to take special walks with his grandma and maybe even find a sand dollar or two.
I think we all need this vacation and I can’t even begin to say how much I’m looking forward to it. It’s my happiest place, with all the people that I love. What could possibly be better?