Show me a bag anyone is bringing to the beach and I’ll tell you how old they are. It’s like looking at a bell curve of your life: the bag starts small, becomes larger until it’s bursting then slowly tapers off.
Like your life.
During the teenage years I carried a very small beach bag. All I needed was a bikini, baby oil, a chair, and Cousin Brucie on the radio. My Italian mother supplied lunch for the entire beach whether she knew you or not. Back then I wasn’t worrying about what I looked like from the side or behind. I sat upright in my chair because I could. Because when I looked down I wasn’t wondering, “how the heck did that happen?”
The dating years come; the bag gets larger. You are still in a bikini and haven’t yet had children, who destroy your life,
…I mean your body.
My mother still supplied the lunch but only if she liked my boyfriend. No lunch delivered, I knew he was history. When I brought my future husband around she delivered breakfast and lunch to the beach and my dad carried down gin and tonics.
…Subtle like a sledgehammer, my parents.
During the years I was raising children, getting to the beach required a large bag busting with shovels, pails, sunglasses, flip-flops, trucks, diapers, sun screen, hats, and diapers , along with strollers, small tents, umbrellas, and chairs. Attempting to cross Ocean Ave to the beach with 2 kids in tow required an act of God. By the time I had survived the crossing, unpacked, the cramp in my bicep finally subsiding, it never failed that one of my kids needed to go back to the house to use the bathroom. The bikini has been traded in for a mu-mu. And that chair? My sister, 8 years my junior with a tight stomach and no kids now sits in it…upright.
Currently my bag is considerably smaller, my life quite different. This was apparent when I spent a few days with a girlfriend at the beach. She used to remind me to bring my ingredients for margaritas, now it’s my heart meds, gluten free wraps, probiotics, and vitamins. I used to remind her to bring sauvignon blanc, now it’s microwaveable quinoa, green tea pills and bee pollen for our metabolism. We lined everything up on the bar and took a picture of our “stash” to send to friends remembering how we used to send pictures of cosmopolitans. The sun is no longer our friend so our hats are large enough to carry a small child.
I’ve ditched the mu-mu and am back in a 2-piece but that chair needs to be at a very specific back-angle so that it appears I have a flat stomach. One notch up in the wrong direction and it’s all over.
Now about that bag… Sometimes I forget the bag. Sometimes I forget the book. Sometimes I have the book but forget the glasses to read the book. I wish my kids were around so I could send them back to get whatever it is that I’ve left behind. It would make me feel like I had gotten my money’s worth for giving birth to them.
And when I finally make it to the beach, unpack, grab my hat, unfold the chair, put up the umbrella, get out the book, apply sunscreen, what’s the first thing I do?
I face the beautiful ocean.
Grab that small bag.
Turn around and head back for the bathroom.