B is for BEACH

B is for BEACH

For our family, the beach is not a sandy place attached to the ocean. It’s broader than that. Basically, the beach is Long Beach Island and our house there. We always say we’re going to the beach for the weekend. It started with the house my grandparents had. We would go down on weekends during the summer. And then, one magical summer, we got to stay the entire season. My parents would discuss, on Sunday night, whether we would be going home, but my mother always convinced Dad and herself that we could stay one more week. And that one more week stretched over 10 weeks. Poor Dad had to leave every Sunday night because he was working and couldn’t commute from there.

The house was there for everyone in the family to use and on weekends there was a huge crowd of people. One branch of the family lives on LBI so they didn’t stay at the beach house but came over all the time. But the rest of us filled in all the bedrooms, many of us doubled and tripled up to fit everyone (usually over 20 people at a time). There were no TV’s at that house. No radios, unless you brought them. There was an old record player on which we played my uncle’s records – like The Village People – and records my cousins brought with them. We played The Streak over and over – we thought it was soooo funny!
We used to play games with all the cousins. Ghost in the Graveyard was a favorite after dark. There is a big yard around the house with lots of hiding places that allowed you to jump out at passing kids. Also Spoons, Jacks, and War, all card games. We once had a Monopoly game that lasted the entire weekend. One of our favorites was Trivial Pursuit, the original. And Pictionary which could usually reduce me to a quivering mass, I was laughing so hard at someone’s picture. I was never allowed to play with Helen as my partner as we think exactly the same way and could guess what the other was drawing after just a few lines. We often refer to sharing a brain. There was a huge jigsaw puzzle of all different fish in the Atlantic Ocean that I did at least once a season, usually with lots of help.

Since there was no TV, we did a lot of reading. Everyone in our family loves books and there were bookcases all over the house, filled with books. Then there was the Beach Haven library – a very small house that became one of our favorite places. It has a brick floor and was always cool inside. We would ride our bikes over and take out books, sometimes going every day if we got a really good one that we went through quickly. In my mind, there is nothing better than finding a quiet spot on the beach, with a rock to lean your back against, a brand new book in your bag, and the day with nothing to do but read. That is heaven!

After my grandparents died, we didn’t go back to that house. However, I am so lucky to have parents that love LBI as much as I do and who could get their own house, that is our new beach house. We have gone through trials with this house, including a fire, and going for over two years of rebuilding (what hell that is). But there is a silver lining in everything, and in this, we got to pick the colors of the rooms this time. We spent so much time walking through with paint chips to get them just right. The time was so worth it! We picked soft pastels for all the rooms and they look so beautiful. When you see through the open doors, from one color to another, it is gorgeous. Before the rooms were full of very busy wallpaper and dark colors. Now, everything is light and open. Also, we combined a little “morning room”, the butler’s pantry and the kitchen to create a large, L shaped kitchen that is much nicer and easier to move through.

And, as always, looking out at that view! Right now, it’s that murky twilight time, when you start thinking about turning on the lights and, when you do, it makes such a difference. You didn’t realize it was quite that dark. But I can still see the small whitecaps cresting the waves and the gulls flying home to roost. Watching storms come across the ocean give me goosebumps. And at night, the sound of the ocean puts me to sleep. I am back to coming only on weekends (nasty things, these jobs and responsibilities), and traffic back and forth can be brutal especially during the summer. I don’t necessarily come for the actual beach (sand and water) now, but for the house and all it holds. Dinners that last for hours because of great conversations. Chats on the back porch while we stand and admire my mother’s garden and watch the creatures that come to visit. That wonderful kitchen where everyone gathers and, if you’re on the right side of the table, you have the ocean as a back drop. The sun which is nicer here than anywhere else. Knowing the house is waiting for me gives me a sense of peace. And knowing the family that is waiting for me within fills me with joy!
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