I have a coworker whose vacations are the exact opposite of ours. Her day-to-day life is so much nonstop on-the-go never-ending battle against the forces of entropy and laziness that her ideal getaway involves laying out at the beach, catching up on her reading, surely having drinks at her side, and nothing else if at all possible. I understand her story is normal, as beach lovers are a majority among vacationers. One time in Virginia, we tiptoed into their world to see what the fuss was about, and to see if the idea might catch on for us.
Mild spoiler: nope.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.
Our 2007 drive down to Orlando had one personal milestone for me: my first contact with the Atlantic Ocean. My moment lasted about ten minutes before thunderstorms chased us away from the coast. As Atlantic beach experiences go, Florida gave me a lousy first impression. For 2008 we decided a second try was in order. Rather than take back-to-back trips to the same state, we researched other east-coast beach options, judged them by their nearby attractions, adjusted for our modest budget that couldn’t possibly afford upper-class oceanfront accommodations, and settled on what we hoped would be a suitable sequel.
Thus in this year of our Lord did we declare: the Goldens are going to Virginia Beach!
After spending a few minutes of quality time examining King Neptune the welcoming statue, we moved on to their feature presentation: the beach of Virginia Beach. Also starring: the Atlantic Ocean.
To be fair, one of our primary objectives was to find an opportunity to view the Atlantic up close without thunderstorms threatening our lives and ruining the scenery. We prided ourselves on checking that box. Then we tried poking at all that sand to see what we could make of it.
We poked, we sculpted, we milled about a bit. We each explored the environment on our own terms.
You’ll notice my outfit just screams, “…like a sore thumb”, especially with the family-sized umbrella that had proven of limited usefulness on Day One. My purpose for bringing it along was twofold. For one, I wanted a walking stick. I’d awakened that morning not feeling so able-bodied, and wasn’t as excited about the beach stroll as I’d hoped to be. At first I’d assumed it was just the chronic back pain that’s plagued me on and off since March 2004. I’d swallowed some ibuprofen and planned to walk it off. Normally that combination works the kinks right out. Normally.
More importantly, I’d forgotten my sunscreen back at the motel and had the last-minute idea of dragging it along as a makeshift parasol, regardless or probable damage to my self-image. Throughout most of my life, my skin had only two settings in summertime: snow white and fire-engine red. I had no interest in adding intense sunburn to my list of debilitations, especially not on vacation.
You’ll also notice we’re not the kind of family that brings swimsuits to the beach, puts them on, and frolics around the beach engaging in beach-based activities using beach-inspired paraphernalia. One: that would make for boring storytelling back home, unless we witnessed a random shark attack or someone spontaneously combusting. Two: my son was in that junior-high phase when public shirtlessness is considered fatal. Three: Anne’s primary simple goal for the week — after our 2007 Cocoa Beach encounter became a short-lived rained-out flop — was to get me in close personal proximity to the Atlantic Ocean for as long as I wanted. None of us had put much thought into our beach visit beyond that.
Okay, yeah, oceans are cool to look at. The water wasn’t as freezing as some Great Lakes we’ve visited. I tried my best not to stare at the dozens and dozens of bikinis. The sand was kinda fun to play in, to an extent. But thanks to the heat in general and my seemingly unrelated muscular discomfort, I had more fun snapping pics of their imposing Neptune statue than I did trying to fit in with the ordinary visitors. Anne and my son didn’t share my pain, but we shared an overall opinion of the moment.
And that’s the pedestrian true story of the day we unanimously realized that, simply put, we are not beach people.
Awkward lesson to learn in the middle of a trip you’ve planned with The Beach as the entire point.
To be continued!
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