She spooks easily at times. (But also not easy to spot, so I’ll give you a pass if you don’t see it right off the bat – most don’t.)
So, I was out at the beach today alternating between reading Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora (fun beach read – might actually be for the YA crowd now that I think about it – but still fun) and standing in the surf to cool off. (Hot as balls with very little breeze. Lovely water with no jellyfish, though.)
Well, I’m standing there in the water, happily cooling off, when this woman comes up to me and asks,
“Do you live here or are you seasonal?” (I look around to see if she is actually talking to me and try to figure out if seasonal means “vacation” or “all summer long” – cause if it means “all summer long” then I definitely want to be seasonal.)
“Um, we’re just here for two weeks in the summer.”
“Oh, because I see you every time we’re here!”
Wait, what? Jesus, I need to get a new hat, six new swimsuits and different beach towels by this time next year. How the hell else could you recognize me? Lord knows my body shape is schizophrenic at best – maybe it’s cause I’ve said “fuck societal expectations” and wear my two piece suits anyway even when some would say, “Please, don’t – think of the children.” How the hell do you recognize me?
I stumble through, “Oh, wow, I don’t ever really recognize anyone from year to year…I kind of get tunnel vision when I’m here cause I’m just focused on being at the beach and stuff.” (Seriously, I am more likely to recognize someone in one of the restaurants from one year to the next than people on the beach. OK, I’d probably recognize the dogs if they had any. But folks on the beach are just…folks on the beach. I assume I look as identical to them as they all look to me.)
“Oh, we’re the ones with the two tents over there!” (True, they have two tents on the beach during the day. Big family. I think some of their stuff was confiscated by beach patrol last year for leaving it out too late into the evening.)
“Oh!” (There are people with tents every week, so it might have been another family last year with tents.)
We had a very nice chat for a couple minutes and she talks about how the people that come on the same weeks kind of end up getting to know each other… And I have no idea how to explain to this woman who happily came all the way from Texas to spend her vacation with a good dozen family members that my favorite part of vacation is getting to spend an inordinate amount of time by myself. (Seriously, the idea of vacationing with that many other people makes me break out in hives. Just ask my ex-husband any time the subject of “the whole family getting a beach house” came up.) I consider myself fairly introverted, but I don’t spend all their my inside, and I do like meeting new people and hanging out with friends and such – just in somewhat small, controlled doses. For me, surprises are very much no bueno.
I’m really not sure if the conversation ended awkwardly or not – it probably did – but it ended and we went back to our respective beach towels. However, I couldn’t help but notice that her teenage son standing next to her during the conversation kept giving her looks of, “Mom, just because she is reading on the beach by herself doesn’t mean she’s all kinds of lonely, she’s just reading on the beach by herself, for heaven’s sake, it’s OK to just read by yourself!!” (Thank the goddesses for teenagers who get “I just want to be left alone, OK?!”)
Mind you, I don’t mind chatting on the beach while chilling my toes. I will be the first to scoop up a kid who has faceplanted in the surf if I am the closest adult-type-person. Or have a conversation with the four year old who is fascinated by the lady in the cowboy hat and wants to run over and say “hi”. We’re here two more days and if I see them on the beach, I’ll certainly give a wave and a hello.
But when someone comes up and says, “Oh, you’re here every time we’re here!” is a tiny bit unnerving – especially when you think of the beach as being your ultimate anonymous spot.
Damn my taste in identifiable beach hats. Seriously, it’s got to be the hat.