One thing I enjoy most about reading blogs is being reminded of how many different ways there are of doing things, or feeling things, or thinking about things. It’s like walking down Broadway in New York City–seeing all those people who are all those colors and shapes and wearing all those different styles of clothes and shoes and hair. For me, it’s enormously liberating and each time I do it I feel more comfortable in my own skin.
But it’s easy to forget.
I didn’t think twice about the fact that, when I returned home, I shook a tide’s worth of sand from every shirt, pair of shorts, and set of underpants. I thought nothing of burying my snout in each garment before dropping it into Lake Dreft (well, not the underpants). I grew up vacationing near the north shore of Massachusetts and on the leeward beaches of Maui, and if I could turn that keen sea smell into a room freshener, I’d do a brisk business selling it to myself.
I will be digging sand out of ears for weeks. I do not mind. I see the bots’ faces and wonder why exactly it looks like they’ve been at the beach; they live in Arizona, for god’s sake–what’s the difference in the appearance of that tan and the one you get on the shore, even when you’re not trying for a tan, even when you’re slathered with a healthy dose of UVA/UVB spf 50 sunscreen? I actually put some thought into it last week and realized that it’s due to two factors.
One: the ocean. There’s a reflective glare off the water that sends the sun to the upper inner parts of the cheeks, on either side of your nose, and up under the bridge of my sunglasses. It gets your whole face. Two: we’re exposed this way, from multiple angles, from hours at a time. If we were at home in the desert, we wouldn’t be out in the sun for hours at a time. I will always associate that kind of tan not with melanomas, hyperpigmentation, and the premature onset of looking like a dried apple doll, but with health and laughter. I will always associate a trace of sand in the bathtub with a happy day.
The day after returning home, after I had done the laundry and thrown away the Q-tips, I had a chance to not quite catch up on a few blogs, and was amused by Deni Lyn’s report of her beach vacation, (Diary of a Relectant Mother) in a rental house, with a baby and relatives. I was ridiculously surprised to discover that a surpreme aversion to rental carpet (and the fact that the vacation was actually more work than real life, as any mother who travels with her work I mean children will tell you), (oh, and a genuine liking for our relative-in-laws), was about the only thing we share, as far as opinions of the beach go.
Lyn got supremely peeved at her husband for even taking their weebot onto the sand and dipping him in the waves. “Filthy” is the word she used to describe sand. It’s true that her bot is much younger than mine, and there was a nice clean shady pool nearby, and she pointed out that her bot has years ahead of him to wallow about on the beach. But I couldn’t help but think that mine were rolling around in such filth at eighteen months (and I grieved that it wasn’t earlier)–granted, wearing a rash guard, long shorts, a hat, and enough sunscreen to fill a hollowed-out pineapple.
I don’t care for the crunch of sand between my teeth. But all this time I’ve thought of the ocean as one of the great natural cleansing substances, unless you’re taking a dip off the shore of Tijuana, under the Brooklyn Bridge, or around a BP drill site. I will never begrudge another mother’s pleas for ease and a nonsunburnt bot. And I love Lyn’s writing, and I’d love to share a bottle of wine with her, and I love how different her point of view is. But as for me, I’ll take the surf with my turf, cuz I yam what I yam.