As a teenager I developed a love for the beach. My family would take vacations to visit Florida and the trips to the beach with the water and bikinis gave me reason enough to live until we returned the next summer.
Then life happened and for 16 years I never saw the beach unless it was on television. Then I was invited by my brother to go with his family and friends for a week vacation earlier this summer. I was in my swim trunks before I hung up the phone.
Nothing could be better. A vacation to the ocean and I could spend time with my little 6-year-old nephew. I know my brother and sister-in-law had babysitting on their mind when I decided to go. Fortunately my nephew was up for it and gave me strict rules as we left for our trip.
"Uncle David I'm going to watch my DVDs and if you're good you can watch them too. But don't touch my stuff."
And away we went. A 13-hour drive to Florida with my nephew and I stuffed in the back seat of the truck where we watched the same DVD over and over and over. Duck Tales. And my nephew sings the song every time it starts. Even while sleeping he will sing along to the theme song and now I do too. But that is a story I will tell my therapist.
When we pulled into our condo and walked out on the balcony that overlooked the ocean I know I heard harps and angels singing. Or that could have been the music I was listening to but I'm going to go with the angels.
After taking in the sights for a brief moment, and then spotting the bikinis on the beach, I was heading out the door before I was stopped.
"Uncle David, we have to eat before we go to the beach."
"Uh-uh! I wanna go to the beach."
"My mommy said we have to eat first so we have to eat or you won't get to go to the beach."
So we ate and finally went to the beach where I taught my nephew and his 6-year-old friend that was staying with us how to catch a wave on the boogie boards. Then I just took off swimming as far out as I could. Being part fish I went out a good ways and had to squint just to see the shore, or maybe that was just because I was looking into the sun. Either way I was out a good distance until I felt something big brush through my legs.
At that moment I became an Olympic swimmer. I was moving at a speed that would have lapped Michael Phelps and his mortal times. When I could finally touch the bottom I acted as if nothing had happened, thankful nobody heard my girlish scream. But everyone would have done the same had a shark the size of Jaws swam between their legs.
A short time later my sister in-law began jumping up and down pointing to the area where I had been and there they were -- a school of dolphins. Mean, angry dolphins that were foaming at the mouth I'm sure.
The reason the dolphins were there was because a tropical storm was headed straight for us. Tropical Storm Beryl barreled toward us and I was excited. First, I got to boogie board and body surf in tropical storm waves. The ocean was angry that day my friends and I should have known that when my brother, his friend and I were the only ones on the beach. In Florida I think.
The waves threw me around like a rag doll and I loved every second of it. One wave picked me up and another wave topped it so fast it kept flipping me and I had no idea which way was up or down.
That night as Beryl made landfall I stood outside on the balcony as 70-mile-per-hour winds crashed into the shore. I was actually disappointed. A tornado is much more fierce. Sure the winds are strong and the rain felt like thousands of ice picks hurled at you, but a tornado will pop up out of thin air and level your house and not touch the one across the street.
Another good thing about Beryl was I got to spend more time with my nephew, his friend and her mother. Together we played the board game Life. As the rain pounded outside I was getting pounded inside. Although it was a good learning experience for the little tykes finding out what happens when you don't go to college.
"Uncle David, I'm going to go to college and make a bunch of money and get a bunch of the $100,000 money."
"Oh yeah, well I'm not going to college and I'm going to become a professional athlete and take all the $100,000 money."
"Oh yeah, well I'm gonna have a wife and a bunch of kids."
"You do that and I'll go back to school and become a lawyer so you can pay me when you get a divorce."
And so it went. Days at the beach and playing Life at night. Again I heard the harps and angels. Of course, there was one drawback. The sand.
After being on the beach the first thing you did was stop by the outside shower and rinse the sand off. Then you walked back to the condo and the first thing you did was take a shower. It never failed but I found sand in spots of my body that I didn't even know existed. After my shower there was another beach on the shower floor. Of course I don't know how there was any sand left on the beach after all my nephew wore inside.
And here is a thought for you: Why do you see all the dogs on the beach but no cats? You would think the beach would be just one big litter box for the furry feline. After thinking of that I'm glad I didn't make a sand castle or let my nephew bury me in the stuff.
Unfortunately after a week it was time to go home. No more spending time with my brother's family and friends and no more beach, sand and all. I hid in the bathroom but they found me.
"Uncle David we have to go. We can watch Duck Tales on the way home if you're good."
I might have left but my heart is still there, buried underneath all the sand. I'm already planning my return trip, one where I might not return. But until then I had better work so I can get my nephew that birthday present.
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @djenkie74.