I love the beach. I wish I could spend much more time at it.
We didn’t go that much as kids. There was a pool at the park that had swimming lessons and a swim team and I once took a junior lifeguard class there, but it’s not the same. The pool was the first place I learned that I should not be seen in public in a swimsuit.
Our Nana retired to North Miami and I once visited by myself when I was 11. I got to sunbathe and swim and read as much as I wanted for a week. She had bookshelves full of Agatha Christie mysteries, a patio and lady friends with cabanas.
Their swimsuits were just as hideous as mine, but no one was bothered by it.
The same Nana would rent a cottage most summers in New Hampshire or Maine. It nearly always rained our week at Sunapee or Winnipesaukee or Bear Pond, but we would still brave the fish or leech infested waters in a gigantic inner tube or while paddling an aluminum canoe (courtesy of Aunt Pat).
To this day, I am not a fan of mucky bottom ponds.
The relative freedom of high school meant we could pile into someone’s clunker to trek out to Rockaway or Rye Playland for the day (I only skipped school once to do this).
We had to watch out for the crack vials and hypodermic needles (it was the 80s, after all) and I was sure to cover up with a gigantic sweatshirt lest anyone see my cleavage or bum.
I went to my first rock concert at Jones Beach (Eric Clapton). We were somewhat overwhelmed by the audience of stoned 40-year-olds, but the music was really good and, no, we did not partake.
The New Hampshire Seacoast beaches were a fixture in my college years (the honkytonk of Hampton, the emptiness of Jenness and Wallis Sands in the off season). And, don’t forget the days of studying on the quad with Sun-In or lemon juice in our hair (still wearing an ugly black tank, I'm afraid).
When my own kids were little, we schlepped them to Cape Cod or Maine to visit the in-laws and I was guilty of wearing maternity suits far longer than necessary because they were very good at hiding one’s belly.
My daughters, thankfully, have much better body image and will wear a two piece and look adorable (if I had only known how cute I was in my 20s).
I didn’t get truly comfortable at the beach until I spent four days by myself in Cape May in 2017 and realized, by God, no one was looking!
I go to Hampton now, or the itty-bitty patch of sand at our small-town lake, in all my glory.
Yes, my suits are navy blue or black and cover my belly and bum, but I have the best tan I’ve had in years and I rock my mermaid hair.
Now, if only I could find a little seaside cottage (or 1950s motel condo) and retire to my patio like Nana.