There’s something about the beach. It’s like a little microcosm of society, a place that draws people from all walks of life to share an experience. It has a sort of a timeless quality, reminding you that there really is nothing new under the sun. While the beach I visit today is a different beach than the one I frequented as a child, and while decades separate the beach scenes of my youth from the beach scenes of today, I see many similarities. The teenage couples, as close to naked as they’ve ever been together, cuddling out in the water. The children building sandcastles, their parents hovering nearby. The families grilling, the young men grandstanding while they play frisbee, the girls laying out under the sun.
I go to the beach as a way to get out of the house and escape the heat with my children. They are so excited – so excited – to be there, eating a picnic lunch in their bathing suits and sun hats. We have come prepared, with big bags packed full of food and supplies. They exclaim over everything they see – the people on rafts and in boats, the little speckled fish in the shallow water, the sand and the rocks and the trees and the mountains and the lake itself. None of this is new to me, but through their eyes I see it as if for the first time. I recapture the excitement I felt as a child myself, when my parents took me to the beach. It’s a place where I am seven years old again, ducking my head under the water and coming up laughing.
The beach I like to visit most isn’t far from my house – less than 20 minutes by car – but it’s officially in the boondocks, surrounded by mountains, and I can’t get data on my phone. It forces me to be present. There’s no tweeting, no Facebooking, no checking out Instagram (although I do admit to snapping lots of photos, because I can’t resist that). It’s just me, my kids, the sand and the water, and lots of fodder for people watching. And oh, how I people watch.
I don’t know what memories my children will carry of our visits to the beach, but I hope they’re as good as mine are from my own childhood. And I hope that one day they feel the same sense of nostalgia, as they return to this place that calls us all, no matter who we are.
What are your favourite parts of visiting the beach? Please share!