A day off appeared, I seized it and disappeared. First, I folded, vacuumed, dusted, emptied the dishwasher and hiked the dog. I had to justify my dash. Anyone else feel the need to do this?
Once I decided to hit the road, I fully thought out my spontaneity. Just like any other mom, I planned for anything that might and could happen; maybe I’d shoot my first online yoga class on the beach (a bit ambitious for a day off but you never know) or maybe I’d indulge in an adult beverage, I packed one. It could be hot or it might be cool, I prepared for both. I made little sandwiches on the tiny bread I found at the store the day before. I spread a thin layer of butter on the bread, no mayo for me. Eating mayonnaise sandwiches at a young age ruined mayo for me, for life. My mom and even my grandmother ‘buttered’ their bread. So, I’ll blame my love affair with butter on them.
Chair, towel, blanket, music, journal, computer and phone were all packed for a journey to New Hampshire’s coast. I blasted soft rock from the 70’s, sang loudly and finally put my feet in the sand at 12:45pm. It occurred to me that I’d never been to Hampton Beach by myself, no kids to chase and no personalities to juggle. It was just me, free to be. I became enamored by a two-year old who was playing with her mom, as her brother explored the beach with a large bowl they brought from their kitchen. The age difference was equal to my own children. It was serendipitous, when the mother called out to her daughter, “Joleigh, come this way.” The universe was nudging me to reminisce, so I did. Memories of those innocent days flooded my mind. The days that passed too fast, in a flash you’re no longer holding hands or bending over to reach them. The funny thing about ‘lasts’ is that we often don’t notice when we’ve done something for the last time. This is a good thing, as the sweetness could potentially turn sour.
I remember Joleigh sitting on this same beach, in a big puddle, surrounded by family who were sprinkled around like seashells in the sand. She wore the cutest brown halter-top bathing suit with a large yellow flower on the side. Her hair was curly and falling perfectly along the sides of her precious baby cheeks. She belonged on the cover of ‘Parent Magazine’. Does that magazine still exist and when did I get my last issue?
My mother had booked a cottage for two-weeks, that summer. The sun never stopped shining, so we spent each day lugging arms-full of beach toys to and from the beach. We felt compelled to fill every moment with something fun for the kids to do; arcades, water park, fireworks, events at the half-shell and the eating of beachy food. There was a costume parade where Parker dressed like Spider-Man. He felt like the real deal, throwing pretend webs to the crowds as they shouted, “Spidey, over here!” This vacation was exhausting, yet satisfying. My ‘experienced self’ would tell my ‘younger self’ to spend more time relaxing in those moments. Less go, go, go and more breathe, breathe, breathe.
I’ve had plenty of other Hampton-filled moments, ones for a different blog on another day. They involve my own childhood, prepubescent days and even a time as 19-year-olds, when Stephanie and I got in a van with people we didn’t know and lived to tell about it. Sorry, mom.
After a couple of hours on the breezy beach, I packed up my party for one. I hit the strip, bought some taffy for the kids and took pictures of all things Hampton. I drove down the coastal road toward Rye Beach, had an ice cream and searched for worthy landscapes to photograph.
This day felt like the beginning of summertime in New England. I bought a summer hat, wrote a poem and reminisced about my days at Hampton Beach. This day away at the sea, brought me back to me.