The car has been loaded for days. Lucy has been dropped at the kennel, and the beach music plays on the radio. I merge onto I95 South and am helpless to prevent the smile from spreading across my face. In four brief hours, I will be reunited with my best friend Robbie for our annual beach vacation.
It is always a special experience. Each time is comfortable and carefree, yet this year has taken on a special meaning. My book, Two Minus One: A Memoir is two months away from publication! Equally exciting is the recent birth of Robbie’s newest granddaughter!
I am always the first to arrive and I quickly unload coolers and chairs. Little is necessary as our requirements are few. We desire nothing more than the beauty of our surroundings and the pleasure of one another’s company. I place the traditional lasagna in the oven for our first beach meal. As the wine chills in the refrigerator, Robbie arrives. I help her unload her car and settle in.
Eagerly we abandon shoes, pour wine, and head for our first walk on the beach. This time allows our legs to stretch after driving and our hearts to open to the joy that awaits as we anticipate the days ahead. Returning, we begin to unpack as we chatter away and “catch up” on all that has happened in the days since we had last talked by phone.
We clear all tabletops and amass our coveted pile of magazines, catalogs, and books. We bring books we have been collecting to read since our last trip. The magazines are selected randomly in the weeks prior to the vacation. The catalogs are those that routinely make their way into our homes and will finally receive our dreamy attention.
The traditional beach jigsaw puzzle has its own place of honor on the coffee table. The gathering place for early morning coffee and chats, and final moments with wine before bed. Even on the rare rainy day, we do not linger. Long ago we gave ourselves permission to leave the puzzle uncompleted.
As we settle in on the balcony with our lasagna and wine, there is another annual tradition. We exchange “beach gifts.” Each have been carefully selected, purchased, and wrapped for one another. The gifts reflect the theme and significance of our time together with a best friend. Before long, we are comfortably full and settled. Sleepy and satisfied, we make our way to bed.
Each subsequent day begins the same. We share early morning coffee and conversation. We walk along the beach collecting favorite shells. We experience quiet moments, and engage in long talks. Each day ends the same as well. We linger on the beach with wine, conversation, and contented reflection. After, there are hot showers. Best friends relax together with the puzzle, a book, or a magazine. We experience restful sleep filled with memories of the day just passed and the new one that awaits.
It is our last day on the beach. We linger as the tide continues to move out and the sun begins to lower in the sky. We clink our plastic wine glasses and toast as we continue reminiscing about each shared special moment. Yet, the bottle is now empty. It is time to fold our chairs, collect our treasures, and head back up. Rested and relaxed, we must complete the process of packing, but we are already anticipating next year’s adventure.