July 22, 2012


sunset beach at sunset \\ kite flying on a windy day \\ impending storm \\ kid sister & me \\ jack \\ hole digging, day 2 \\ prohibited words & related offenders \\ ashley learns to juggle \\ evening walk \\ dusk

north carolina. all things are the same as always, except that we grow older. the house is, as usual, crowded. beth (34) and her daughter kaitlin (14); amy (33) and her boys (3 and 6); me and my sister ashley (just weeks shy of 15); my aunt and uncle. my other cousin, stephanie (30), is too pregnant and doesn't make the trip. beth and I share a bed, which is somehow hilarious and comfortable and fine. it reminds me of when we were girls, when amy and beth and I would all sleep in the same bed and I would hate waking in the middle of the night to use the bathroom because I'd have to crawl over them, afraid to rouse them in the process.

it's the same boring wonderful routine: breakfast, coffee, sunscreen, beach. I bring a book down every day but hardly read at all. we talk idly, for hours. the teenagers swim. every day I dig a giant, elaborate hole for the boys, who seem to remain unimpressed but continue to ask me for another one every day anyway. jack, the youngest, can't remember my name so I tell him he can call me whatever he wants. he names me 'hermit crab.'

the girls catch a guy from a neighboring family repeatedly checking me out as I walk past and we take to calling him 'boyfriend.' boyfriend becomes a week-long joke. 'you can't eat any more today if you want to impress boyfriend,' beth says. 'we just figured out which house boyfriend lives in,' kaitlin declares one day, triumphant.

this is literally all we do. sleep, eat, beach, trashy TV. one night we steam 4 dozen crabs. there is always shrimp, cooked in the maryland fashion, boiled in a ton of seasoning. we mix ketchup and horseradish into a seafood sauce and then we make pained faces with every bite, as the horseradish hits our noses. this is part of the endless traditions. the others: we sit on the porch in the rocking chairs, painting our nails. we play cutthroat rounds of double solitaire, a game which, incidentally, I've never encountered outside my own family. there are beers.

we stay for five days, then late one afternoon, it's time for my sister and me to hit the road. just off the island, we stop at alice's produce stand, where I buy butter beans and enormous, heavy tomatoes and one peach for the road. alice rings us up, and thanks us. "y'all come back now," she calls, and we are in the car again, the windows down, the radio up.

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