I hate tanning, naturally or not, but I love the sun. And there is no better place to burn in all of its glory than on a beach. But more than the sun, sea, and sand, the beach is a place where all you can do is be there. Be there with the ones you came with, or the ones you meet.
When I was still living in The South, a summer beach vacation wasn't just a cliche, but really the cheapest and most relaxed sort of escape you can make. The white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast...
The summer after our graduation a male friend invited me to a week of Florida beachin' with the just of our mutual friends and his family. But I was obviously, more or less, the outcast. Where as the other handful or two of people have known each other, the male, and his family for years, I had only been around for a mere months. I didn't put into perspective why until the first night in our condo when a mutual friend notes, "[Name of trip leader]'s brother and girlfriend thinks [trip leader] has a thing for you. We were talking about it on the roadtrip over. They said they noticed him..." Well, it's safe to say the rest of the trip was faulted with an overcast of awkward. But with the male and I taking early morning swims before the rest of the crew woke and a generously delivered serving of mint chocolate chip ice cream with a Dave's dog on the side, "awkward" was pushed aside by "affection" as the rest of the summer went on.
Similarly, another male friend invited me to his and his friends' post-grad summer beach trip; except this time, I knew the invitee longer than most of the rest of the crew, of which there were four I've never met prior to the roadtrip. And though this trip had it's own overcast of awkward, after the rainstorm there glowed a rainbow with a pot of pure happiness at the end. I was sitting on the porch one afternoon with my long time friend and one of the females I've never met before. Without knowing to what extent the male and I knew each other, she asked him if he had a girlfriend, and then turned to me to ask the same. "Nope, I'm not down with any of that right now, just whatever and whoever makes me happy will happen as they happen." "Yeahhh, like what she said," agreed the male. There was a moment of silence, un-awkward, where I felt a massive air of relief upon realizing we were on the same page, same paragraph, same line, same word. Later that day as everyone was picking up their things from the sands of the beach to retire to the house, my dear friend gave me a hand by picking up my sandals without me having to even ask. As I walked back barefoot (because those shoes took ages to tie up), the previously mentioned female's boyfriend whom I've also never met before messed, "Ouu [Name of invitee], holding [My Name]'s shoes for her, how cuteee." My friend was quick to say, "Mang, she forced me!" I kept silent, and smiled to myself, because as much as I would have liked to defend myself on not being that bitch that asks someone to do everything for me, I knew it didn't matter. Knowing him, I don't think about it as him lying, but rather just another one of the various ways he shows to be caring, however unconscious of it he may be.
But before all the graduating and referring to "growing up" as "growing old," I regularly beached on 4th of Julys in Destin, Florida with my dear Godfamily and their family friends. My family more than anyone knows how I would take to style especially during vacations, trying my best not to look like a tourist. One of my more unconventional beach ensembles consisted of a two piece with its bikini bottom suspended by golden braces. Wearing this, I found a moment to sit in the sand away from the rest of my family. Then, amidst the massive summer holiday crowd, a gentlemanly boy picked me out to strike a casual conversation with. I don't have a beach body. I don't have a pretty face. Nice to meet you.
On these extended weekend trips, the nights of the fourth were conventionally spent on the shore watching the Gulf's surface shimmer as fireworks lit up the sky. But one year, my eyes didn't make it that far, they were locked on the skies above. While standing amidst all of our family members, the son in my Godfamily's family-friends's family looked up at me and patted the empty space he laid beside. It might sound and might have looked, according to my Godfather, more romantic than it actually was, but in that year of mishaps and losses I never felt less alone just lying beside someone I knew yet didn't know at all without saying a single word or sharing a single glance.
Whether you've known me for some time or just meeting me, whether you're trying hard or not trying at all, there is no better way for me to warm up to you than with a little fun in the sun, or/and on the sand. This is number twenty-five.