Thursday, January 10, 2008

Summer saw you wasted, everyday.

The first thing you see is blue on blue. A cloudless sky resting atop a line of deep indigo on the horizon. The sun is already burning a red line across your bare skin; where you couldn't quite reach to put the sunscreen properly. A thin film of sweat collects at the nape of your neck. You breathe in the waves and swat at the flies before making your way down the hill to the sand. Do you want an ice-cream now or later? your companion muses while looking hungrily at the van. Can't we do both? you laugh back.

The bathing boxes are lined up like soldiers at the ready for a gay mardi gras parade. You can hear the delighted squeals of small children no doubt wearing hats that are much too big and being taunted by splashes of water. This makes you smile as you remember countless summers spent by the water. Your mind goes back in time almost 20 years to your dad dripping freezing cold water onto your back while you sunbaked, purposely trying to annoy you. These memories make you smile now. They didn't back then.

You hoist the umbrella up under your arm with effort (everything takes effort on a day already hitting 30 degrees before 10am) and take those first tentative steps across the hot sand. A scratchy towel, under the other arm is already throwing you off balance and you falter a little, tipping dangerously to one side. Walking on sand involves feeling like one is temporarily drunk. Finding the right spot is an art. Private but close to the water, sandy but not shelly, away from the freaks playing with a ball (who ARE these people that do this?) and enough room to have a conversation without being overheard.

With the umbrella erected and tilted, the picnic rug spread and the towels positioned just right you peel back your clothes and sigh backwards onto your towel. "A" pulls back the lid on a container to reveal a bunch of crispy green grapes, nectarines, watermelon and ripe strawberries. You take a strawberry and enjoy its sweet coolness across your lips. A perfect beach breakfast. You smile, engaging in a cheerful conversation that soon dies away as the sun sends you both into drowsy silence.

You close your eyes and hear the sounds of the beach all around you. Cheery laughter, sunscreen bottles clicking closed, a shuffling of feet close by, occasional outbursts of loud laughter and the heavy splashes of people frolicking in the waves. You open one eye and peer at the middle aged Greek ladies proudly displaying their slight ponches and legs complete with a touch of cellulite. They laugh and recount stories in their own language while sunning themselves. You notice they're set up for the whole day. Food, and drinks, books and sunscreen - everything a close knit group of friends will need. You know they won't hit the books, they've got too much to talk about. You grin to yourself. You much prefer these real creatures of life and laughter to the gaggle of silent but deadly young things further down who look like they've had one too many days in the sun and are much too conscious of looking the part of the beach-goer. Give it a rest girls, this ain't LA you think.

The best part of the afternoon ticks by as you doze, and talk and imagine and sigh. The water feels like a silky awakening and you are christened by a new feeling of contentment. Hallelujah! And under you go again.

By the time you both pack away the makeshift picnic the beach dwellers have tripled. The sand is a patchwork of gaudy tends and Pisa tilted umbrellas. Making your way back to the car is always a challenge with your head weighted with daydreams as it is today. You smell a little bit like cocoa butter and sunscreen, ice-cream and sand all mixed together with a pinch of salt. It's a nice smell. You smell like summer.

Labels: , , , , , ,