Once we reached the bridge to the island, I swore I could smell the ocean.  The beach was still at least 30 minutes away, but it was the anticipation of the smell that tricked my nose.  I was already so glad to be sitting on the driver’s side of the car.  I would see the ocean first, before my brother, in between the houses on the beach.  I would see it first and, therefore, it would be mine. 

The lazy branches of the trees lined the road.  I leaned toward the middle of the backseat to get a better view, to see my ocean.  My brother elbowed me telling me I was too close to him, so I had to press my cheek to my window instead.  The closer we got to the water, the sillier the beach house names became:  “Crab Shack”, “Sea Star”, “Shelly Cove”, “Captain’s Lodge.”  I started to think about putting on my bathing suit and running toward the ocean. 

It will be cold at first.  I will stand in the wet sea mud and squish my toes and wiggle my body so that my feet disappear.  And then pull my feet out and fling wet sand back into the ocean.  I will dig my fingers in the mud and pull them out slowly and then wish I had a clean finger to scratch my nose.  I will keep one eye out for jellyfish and the other looking for sand dollars.  I will have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches maybe twice before supper, eat cheese crackers straight from the box and large glasses of lemonade.  There will be games stacked on the bookshelves with missing pieces, of course.  Other children’s grubby hands have swirled the puzzle pieces not watching where a few land.  Buckets and shovels!  I will pick up shells and make sure nothing is still living in them.  I will find the prettiest ones – the ones that look like long puppy feet with purple on them.  Someone will grab me and push me around while rubbing me up with sun block.  I will whine and try to break free.  My brother and cousin will swim out past where they should and my grandmother will stand on the porch in her bathing suit (she doesn’t even swim in it) yelling for them to come back in.  She will mutter about Lan’s sake and rip tides.  We will all laugh when she says “thongs” instead of flip flops.  I will not go out far in the ocean where my feet don’t touch.  I like for my feet to touch so that I can run in front of the waves.  I will try to wash off the beach before going inside but it will stick to me and not want to let me go.  OH and the best part: I will take a shower and once dry, feel how warm my skin is from being in the beach sun.  I will try to count my new freckles and sit on the porch to dry my hair.  I will rock in the rocking chairs and not ever put shoes on my feet the whole time.  I will watch the towels on the railing blow in the beach breeze.   I will smell my towel and smile at the salty smell.  I will play checkers and wait for my grandmother to hoot at having to pull the tails and legs off of cooked shrimp.  I will eat too many shrimp and a baked potato and not enough salad.  I will wait patiently as I am supposed to for strawberry short cake and sadly, not be able to finish it all.  The men will watch the TV and the women will do crossword puzzles.  I will fold up nicely on someone’s hip and try to keep my eyes open. 

I come back to watching the road and eek with glee at the first sight of water.  This will be a good day.

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