I used to spend summers in Delaware. It's strange to write that now; it seems a epoch ago. But from 1979 to 1987, my parents and I would pack the car with enough of our material goods to last 8 or 9 weeks and drive from Boston to Bethany Beach, an Atlantic seaside town that claimed, rightly or wrongly, to be the body-surfing capital of the East Coast. We'd eat Chesapeake Bay crab and corn on the cob for pretty much the entire summer. Days were spent on the beach and evenings at water parks or mini-golf courses. If it rained, the family went to the movies. In the summer of '84 it was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Ghostbusters. In '85, it was The Goonies. I learned to ride a bike and saw my first snake in the wild, which duly scared the living shit out of me.
I was allowed to eat the sugary-sweet cereal that my mother usually forbade.
The days at the beach were spent mostly in the water; sometimes with a boogie board, sometimes with raft, sometimes without either - swimming and failing to dodge waves. The lifeguards only had to save me once, I think, which isn't bad over the course of 9 summers. There was some manner of riptide and it pulled me out and before I knew it, I was being pulled back in. The lifeguards were nice to me and my summer friends. We didn't realise they were hitting on our older cousins that would visit us.
Lunch tended to be of the packed variety. PB & Js with a healthy dose of sand. Those awesome flip-top bottles of Grolsch that had been rinsed and filled instead with homemade lemonade. Damn we looked cool; a bunch of ten and eleven year-olds drinking lemonade out of vintage beer bottles. We fucking swigged that lemonade, man.
And then came the wait. Full of sandy sandwiches and lemonade, all we wanted to do was jump back in the water. Lunch was nice and all, but most days it seemed like an annoying break from the relentless, joyous pace of play. But worse than the sandy sandwiches was the parental directive that followed it; we had to wait an hour before we went back in the water. The hour took seven in our heads. Every five minutes we asked if we could go in yet. It was the are-we-there-yet of the days at the beach. We wore Jams and had that weird zinc shit on our noses and under our eyes. We were neon-and-pastel-adorned kids in the eighties and we wanted to go swimming no matter what time it was.
We could've built sand castles or played paddle ball. There were volleyball nets. But no, we wanted to do what we couldn't. The threat of cramps didn't scare us. But wait we did, disgruntled and impatient.
This morning I made an espresso and poured myself a big bowl of cereal. I watched highlights from last night's baseball games and read a bit. And now I'm writing this post and remembering those summer afternoons because I can't quite go for my run yet. I have to wait a few hours after eating before going for a run. I'll feel quite ill if I don't. So I pace and fill the time and bounce on my toes to keep my feet and legs loose.
I'm less petulant about it these days, but not by much.