Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life is a Beach

Lately, all I think about is the beach. Not just any beach, but Juno Beach in Florida, specifically. My son's father lives in West Palm and my son has spent summers there since he was eight years old. His father moved there in 2001 and my son's first summer there was right before 9/11. He flew down as an unaccompanied minor all by himself, which was nerve wracking for his parents, but exciting for him (He told me later he sat next to a nice lady that reminded him of his Grandma who gave him cookies). Although we didn't know it at the time, his dad's apartment complex was directly across the street from the airport where the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons. In the months following 9/11 Evan's dad moved and, as fate would have it, this time he was only two blocks from where the Anthrax first showed up.

Needless to say, the whole thing was just a little too close to home. The following year, we were still traumatized and didn't feel comfortable putting our nine year old on a plane by himself, so I took him down on the train. My son loved that, trains were his thing back then, but it was a loooong trip for Mom. We made pretty good time from Trenton down past DC, but from there onwards it slowed down considerably. For some odd reason, the train kept stopping in random places, out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees or fields, and would sit there for long stretches of time before starting back up again. And when it did start back up, it didn't go as fast as it had before. I don't know if that was SOP, or something funky with that particular train, but with the constant stopping-and-starting it seemed to take an eternity to get there. By the time we arrived, I had read two entire novels and played 20 questions and I-spy with Evan at least 500 times.

After such a long trip, I needed some decompression time before I got back on the train to go home again, so I spent a few days enjoying the beach with Evan. There were other beaches closer to where Evan's dad lived, but Juno Beach twenty minutes away was the one I always made a beeline for. It had white sands, turquoise waters, and almost no people. Up on the dunes there was a little sea turtle sanctuary, and in various spots along the beach there were mounds with snow fence around them where the turtle eggs were buried, waiting to hatch. Evan and I enjoyed looking at the rescued turtles at the sanctuary and spent hours bobbing in the amazing aquamarine, oh-so warm waves. In a time when, literally, everyone in the country was on edge, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, it was a much needed interlude of peace and tranquility.

Lately, that beach keeps coming to mind, I guess because I've been working so hard over the past five years and there haven't been many breaks. After thinking about it all summer, I finally booked myself a flight. In September Evan and I will be going back to Juno Beach. Only for two days, but hey, I'll tell what I can get. This will be the first time in a very long time that a break will really BE a break, with nobody calling or emailing, saying "Sorry to bother you, but . . . " I will really be able to just be in the moment, without having to worry what is happening--or not happening--while I'm away. For once, I won't be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

When I get there in September I'm hoping I'll find Juno Beach the same way I left it, clean, quiet and peaceful. The sea turtles might not be there at that time of the year, but I surely will be, with my book, my beach chair, my floppy hat and SPF 70 and my son, too. <3

Juno Beach, Florida

Evan on Juno Beach Pier in 2002

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